It is a difficult opener for 6th seed Dominic Thiem as he battles Kevin Anderson in Toronto at the Rogers Cup. Anderson advanced in round one with a straight sets win over Viktor Troicki. The South African has owned Thiem in four career meetings, having lost just one set out of eleven played.
(6) Dominic Thiem vs Kevin Anderson
Thiem comes to Toronto with little momentum as he’s fallen a bit flat following his break through at the French Open. Following his first Grand Slam semifinal at Roland Garros, Thiem lost in round two at Wimbledon to Jiri Vesely and then crashed out of his home tournament in Kitzbuhel to veteran Jurgen Melzer in his first match. It’s a tough ask for Thiem to get things turned around against a player who has never tasted defeat against him. Anderson is 4-0 vs Thiem with all four meetings on hard courts. Thiem finally took a set from Anderson the last time they met at the Paris Masters last Fall, but fell in three tiebreaks. That has been a recurring theme in their head-to-head with six tiebreaks played in their last eight sets. Anderson is 7-1 in those breakers.
For Anderson, the round one win against Troicki came as much needed relief in a season strife with injuries and inconsistency. The 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over the Serb was just his sixth on the season against eleven losses. Last year, Anderson went a career best 46-26, including his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the U.S. Open. Anderson beat Thiem in the third round in straight sets en eoute to that feat 6-3, 7-6, 7-6. Against Troicki in his Rogers Cup opener, Anderson flashed some of his powerful serve as he crushed nine aces and controlled play with his first serve. He won 85 percent of the points played off his first serve. He was broken once on two chances. His ground strokes looked pretty solid, something that has plagued him a bit this season.
For Thiem, he must overcome his recent downturn and an 0-2 record at this event. He has had some issue getting going during the North American hard court swing prior to the U.S. Open. Thiem is 0-4 in the combined Masters swing in Canada at the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati in the last two seasons. He has improved vastly on hard courts this season, going 16-5 to tip his career record over .500 finally. The question now is whether the 22-year-old may have burned himself out a bit with a heavy schedule over the first six months of the season.
As he makes the transition back to hard courts, Thiem will be up against a player who possess the requisite power to trouble him in his first match on the surface. When you combine that with Anderson’s past success against the Austrian, it’s easy to see why an upset could be in the cards in this one. Thiem has definitely shown during his ascension into the Top 10 this season that he can win and produce on all surfaces. He won his first title on an outdoor hard court in Acapulco and showed well during the Indian Wells/Miami swing with a 4-2 mark with the losses to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic.
Still, this has proven to be a tough portion of the season in the past and his play in recent weeks should temper expectations this week. Anderson meanwhile could be getting healthy at just the right time heading into the portion of the season where his game is suited to do damage. This one figures to see a lot of big first serves if both players are clicking and we’ve seen with Thiem especially that is a big key to success for him. When his first serve is in rhythm, he is awfully difficult to break and beat. Likewise, when Anderson has his humming, he will keep himself in sets and save some wear and tear from becoming involved in too many rallies.
This likely will be classic baseline ball bashing from both as their preferred method of play on this surface and in general. Thiem’s backhand certainly stands out as a huge weapon and trumps Anderson’s two hander by miles. The gap is closer on the forehands where you can give a slight edge to Anderson’s when he finds the measure of it. Thiem still sees a few more errors from that wing, but definitely has the power to rip off winners at any time.
The Pig would be a fool not to mention tiebreak records for both to finish this off, seeing as so many of their recent sets have been settled in that manner. Thiem has played 31 this season, going 18-13. That pushed his career record above .500 at 48-47. Anderson with his limited scheduled has obviously played far lees with 14 and has gone 8-6. For his career, he is 132-113 in tiebreaks. The big difference seems to be in tiebreaks versus Thiem where he is 5-1.
Bottom line is situation and history dictates that Anderson is going to have a good chance to steal this one from the sixth seed. Expect the sets to be tight and to be decided late. The Pig can see this one going the distance, but give Anderson another win over Thiem in the end.
Anderson wins in three sets