How clay-bred Dominic Thiem turned hard court contender

Written by Gaurav Bhatt

Updated: September 13, 2020 4:27:02 am

Dominic Thiem is about to face Alexander Zverev within the US Open closing on Sunday. (Source: Reuters)

Long considered as a pure clay-courter, Dominic Thiem has advanced into a robust competitor on hard courts, enhancing his profitable share on the floor from 53 in 2017 to 76 this yr. The Austrian pushed Rafael Nadal to 5 units within the 2018 US Open basic, received his first Masters title final yr in opposition to Roger Federer at Indian Wells and completed the season with wins over each the Swiss and Novak Djokovic on the ATP Finals. Now, the 27-year-old is in his second-straight hard court Grand Slam closing, and we check out what’s working for him.

Better positioning

Like most clay specialists, Thiem used to play from nicely behind the baseline on hard courts. He nonetheless performs deep however has shifted barely ahead in latest occasions, typically dashing in and changing probabilities. In the five-set quarterfinal loss to Nadal in New York two years in the past, Thiem got here in 31 occasions, profitable 21 factors; a hit rate of 68 per cent. In January, he defeated Nadal within the Australian Open quarterfinal in 4 units, the place he received 26 of 33 internet factors (79%). During the semifinal in opposition to Daniil Medvedev, Thiem received 22 of 29 (76%) internet factors. The ploy doesn’t simply work in opposition to baseliners. Thiem traded Tour Finals group wins with Federer in 2018 and 2019, dropping the previous with a internet level success rate of 41% (7 of 17) and profitable the latter with 78% (14 of 18). Improved positioning has resulted in higher volleys and fewer unforced errors.

Faster playstyle

Speaking about his Australian Open closing run this yr, Thiem admitted: “I told myself, ‘If I can be in the finals in London, the ATP Finals, why not as well in a hard-court Slam?’ Since then I know that I’m also playing very well on the faster surfaces.”

Thiem carried his kind onto the GreenSet Plexicushion courts on the Australian Open and has bought solely higher on US Open’s quicker Laykold floor. Thiem fought hard in Melbourne — Aussie world No. 151 Alex Bolt stretched him to 5 units within the second spherical. The remainder of his matches have been at the very least four-set affairs, save the one easy three-setter fourth-round conflict in opposition to Gael Monfils. At the US Open, Thiem took benefit of a extra beneficial draw and has solely dropped one set en path to the ultimate.

Stronger physique

Early final yr, Thiem cut up with childhood coach Gunter Bresnik and deserted the concept of replicating his clay-court sport on hard courts. The Austrian fashioned a brand new entourage which ran him ragged. Chilean Nicolas Massu would enhance his ward’s positioning and elegance through the every day on-court session. Fitness coaches Dr Michael Reinprecht and Duglas Cordero and physio Alex Stober would conduct two off-court conditioning classes.

A seaside exercise and a observe exercise every day improved the physicality. Thiem’s robust higher physique now helps him impart each pressure and spin together with his backhand, and opponents can not goal his one-hander with excessive forehands. “I come to the net more often, I improved my volleys, my serves, my returns. As a result of that I had pretty good results in the late stages of the season,” Thiem stated final yr.

The photographs on the hardcourt are flatter, the serves extra aggressive. Compared to 2017, Thiem’s common first-serve has bought each quicker (108mph to 116mph) and extra correct (58.8% to 65.8%).

Statistics: TennisSummary/ATP

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