World number eight and third seed Dominic Thiem takes on former top 10 stalwart David Ferrer for a place in the semi-finals in the last match on Grandstand. Both have had their fair share of struggles this season. Ferrer has suffered a downturn in form that, at one point, saw him fall outside the top 40. Thiem had a fine clay court season, reaching the final in Madrid and the last four in Paris, but has struggled since.
They have met just once so far in their careers. That match came last year, during one of the worst seasons of Ferrer’s career, whilst Thiem was firmly on the rise. Thus, it should come as little surprise that Thiem won it on the clay in Rio de Janeiro. It was a comprehensive victory for the Austrian as he dominated Ferrer from the back of the court, winning 6-3 6-2.
However, although Thiem has racked up some impressive results in his career, Ferrer does have more experience, particularly on hard courts. Thiem has won eight titles in his career, but just one of them came on a hard court, in Mexico. He has reached only one other hard court final, and in that match he was comfortably defeated by Lucas Pouille. Ferrer, in contrast, has won 12 hard court titles, despite also preferring the clay courts. He is also a former finalist in Cincinnati and has made four semi-finals at the hard court Majors. Thiem is yet to go beyond the fourth round in Melbourne or New York.
Path to the quarter-finals
Dominic Thiem enjoyed a bye into the second round as the third seed. He began against fellow clay court specialist Fabio Fognini and had the measure of the Italian throughout. He came through a 6-3 6-2 and never looked troubled. His third round match against Adrian Mannarino, last week a quarter-finalist in Montreal, was a much closer affair. Mannarino had defeated the in-form Sam Querrey in the second round and was playing excellent tennis. He pushed Thiem to two tiebreakers, but the Austrian managed to dig out the performance he needed in both.
Ferrer began against Steve Johnson in the first round. The American didn’t get going in the first set, losing it 6-1 but he battled hard in the second to push the match to a decider. There the Spaniard’s experience won out, as he took it 6-3 to wrap up the win. He had another battle against Janko Tipsarevic, also a former top 10 player. The Serbian had a lengthy spell out with a foot injury but has been playing some good tennis of late. Ferrer took a tightly contested first set, winning it 6-4. But Tipsarevic dug in, and when the second set went to a tie break, it was Tipsarevic who stayed cool in the crucial moments. Ferrer, though, broke early in the second set, and Tipsarevic couldn’t recover, dropping the set 6-1.
Strangely, Ferrer’s most straightforward win came against his compatriot, Spanish number one Pablo Carreno Busta. Carreno Busta missed the grass court season with a back injury but has been playing well since. However, he put in a strangely limp performance against Ferrer. The younger man lost in straight sets, going down 6-4 6-4 in a match he’d surely love to have another shot at.
How do they match up?
Both are most at home on clay courts but play quite differently. That being said, neither would be described as an all court player, though they are not incapable at the net. Thiem is a big hitter, he prefers to dominate with his heavy topspin shots, particularly the forehand, which he can hit at startling velocity. Ferrer, in contrast, lacks the power Thiem possesses, but is the epitome of consistency. He rarely gives away unforced errors and grinds opponents down with his tireless work at the baseline.
Where he might have the advantage over Thiem is that he is more comfortable playing on the baseline. The Austrian prefers to play from deeper in the court, which can leave him vulnerable to angles on the quicker courts. Ferrer also has the advantage of a more compact swing, leaving him less in danger of being rushed.
Thiem is the higher ranked player, but he isn’t the world number eight because of his hard court exploits. In fact, he seems to have regressed on the surface. Ferrer, meanwhile, remains the tireless competitor he always was. Though he is at least half a step slower than when he was at his best, he remains a tough challenge for anyone. And he has been showing some good form of late, better than Thiem’s. Ferrer to win through in a three set battle.
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