Fine Swine: U.S. Open Preview R3 – Anderson vs. Thiem

Thiem Is 0-2 Against Anderson
Photo: Getty Images

15th seeded Kevin Anderson goes for his best showing at the U.S. Open when he faces 20th seed Dominic Thiem in today’s third round on Court 17. This is the fourth time that Anderson has made it as far as the third round, but he has never advanced to the fourth.

(15) Kevin Anderson vs. (20) Dominic Thiem
While Anderson looks for a first today, the young Austrian on the other side of the net will be seeking to make it two straight fourth round showings at the U.S. Open. Thiem surprised in his U.S. Open debut in 2014 with wins over 11th seed Ernests Gulbis and 19th seed Feliciano Lopez before losing to Tomas Berdych in the fourth round. Thiem has looked very comfortable again on these courts with a straight sets win over Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the first round. In the second round, he was up two sets on Denis Istomin when Istomin retired with an unspecified injury in the third set. Anderson had an easier day in the second round with a straight sets win over wild card Austin Krajicek. In the first round, he was pushed by Russian teen Andrey Rublev in a 7-6, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3 win for the 15th seed.

Anderson’s serve has been impeccable this week with 52 aces and he has only been broken one time. That will be a huge advantage today if he continues to serve at that level against Thiem. The big man has won right around 90 percent of his first serve points through two rounds. He was much more ruthless on break points against Krajicek as he cashed in four of four after only being able to net three out of ten chances against Rublev. Thiem has been solid on serve this week, but he doesn’t use it quite like Anderson can. He won’t get nearly as many aces, but can be extremely effective with placement and pace.

This is career meeting number three between these two. Anderson has won both previous encounters which came in 2014. He beat Thiem 7-6, 6-4 in Tokyo and in straights sets 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 at the Australian Open. Break chances will be massive in this one as Thiem will not expect to see but a few off the serve of Anderson. Anderson is solid saving those break chances at 68 percent on the season. The Austrian averages converting around 34 percent of the break chances that he sees. He will need to ramp that up a notch today because of the infrequent number of break opportunities he is likely to see. He would also do well to do better saving the break chances he dishes out. For the season, he saves around 59 percent of those chances.

For The Pig, watching the ability to fend off breaks and the ability to cash in break points will be a telling tale in this one. Off the ground, both have good forehands. Anderson’s will bring more heat with it. Thiem features a one handed backhand that could be a little trickier against Anderson. The big man uses a double handed approach on his backhand that will be more straight forward and should be easier for Thiem to keep up with. When Rublev pushed Anderson in the opening round, Anderson committed a lot of unforced errors with 49 compared to just 14 in the second round against Krajicek. He is going to have more winners than Thiem, that is the nature of both of their games. Tie breaks will favor Anderson where he is 22-15 this season, while Thiem is under .500 at 16-18.

For Thiem to have a chance to pull off the upset of the higher seed, he will need to be a rock on serve and keep his unforced errors to a minimum. I think Thiem has the consistency edge on the ground if he can get Anderson into rallies because he doesn’t always go for the big shot whereas Anderson likes to put away rallies early. If Thiem can get Anderson into longer rallies and force him to try and be precise over the course of a five set match, the Austrian will stand a shot to get win today.

Thiem wins in four sets


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