Dominic Thiem v Alexander Zverev Australian Open SF, Who’s The Pick? Djokovic-Federer Redux

by Sean Randall | January 30th, 2020, 9:06 pm

After, in his words, a “horrible” ATP Cup, few would have picked Alexander Zverev to make a deep run, let alone first Grand Slam semifinal run at the Australian Open. But credit to the German. He took some speed off his first serve to reduce his risk of double faults and so far it’s paid off in a huge way.

The 22-year-old donated 31 double faults in three matches at the ATP Cup, whereas just 11 in five matches in Melbourne (plus he’s already thrown in $50K for the bushfire relief effort). He did benefit from a great draw the first three rounds but enters Friday off two really quality, comfortable wins over Andrey Rublev and Stan Wawrinka. And tonight he’s goes in with a real chance against Dominic Thiem.

Before I get into this second semifinal, a quick look back at last night.

As expected, it was Novak Djokovic rolling past a hobbled Roger Federer 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-3. I admire Federer for giving it a go but sadly there just wasn’t much to this match.

Federer did roar out of the gates, giving many hope. The hyper-aggression mixed with an excellent start serving seemed to catch Djokovic off guard. That is until the Serb rebooted and gained control late in the first. Djokovic has been nearly perfect in tiebreakers the last six months, and here was another example, and that was it.

How bad is this Federer injury? We just don’t have much information but he is scheduled for a charity match against Rafael Nadal in South Africa next week on Friday. Then he’ll be defending his title in Dubai later in the month. Hopefully it’s nothing serious because at his age even the littlest of things can become worrisome.

As for Djokovic, he now gets two days off (as if he needs it) before he meets Thiem or Zverev. He’ll be the big favorite either way, and rightfully so. He just doesn’t lose once he gets this far in Melbourne. So who will it be?

Dominic Thiem v Alexander Zverev
I know Thiem leads their head-to-head 6-2, but there’s not much to read into. Not many hard court meetings, Thiem’s won both in Grand Slams at the French which is what you would expect.

Thiem did beat Zverev indoors on a slick court at the ATP Finals last November. Zverev won at 2016 Beijing, their only outdoor hardcourt clash.

Both are playing well, both seem to be fresh and ready. Thiem has the experience — and he’s four years older — and has better wins in general having been torching the Big 3 of late (beat Djokovic at the French, now Nadal in Australia). So Thiem gets the edge there and I also give him the edge with the court. I think it’s a good speed for his heavy, penetrating groundstrokes.

But Zverev is 6-foot-6 and it feels like the pressure has come off of him a little after the rise of Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas last year. So that’s help and also helped motivate him, maybe. And now that he’s made a Slam semi, some of the weight has lifted.

Zverev has a big backhand, big game, decent serve and moves well. He’s good at just about everything, but maybe not great at any one thing. For him, though, he’s had issues staying mentally focused from set-to-set. That hasn’t been a problem.

Thiem has the bigger power so this will come down to how the Austrian plays. If he can stay up in court and pound away from the ground with this relentless forehand and backhand combo, he should win this. If he stands too far back behind the baseline, drops balls short, he will lose.

And I think racking up all these wins over the Big 3, having been to a Slam before and having maybe having a chip on his shoulder after the Muster mess, gives him the edge.

Thiem has also proven to be a big match player, Zverev isn’t there…yet.
The Pick: Thiem in 5

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21 Comments for Dominic Thiem v Alexander Zverev Australian Open SF, Who’s The Pick? Djokovic-Federer Redux

Wog Boy Says:

Sean, keep in mind that they both had pretty good draw, bar Rafa for Thiem.
Zverev played Rublev who overplayed himself by winning two tournaments back to back and straight from winning Adelaide went to AO, Stan was gassed out playin 2 five setters and one 4 set match.
Also, it going to be even hotter than last night, Thiem doesn’t like it, and if it as dry as it was last night the ball will fly faster (it was obvious last court was faster).
Zverev is in with a good chance, but Thiem has a better head if it comes to crunch.

Wog Boy Says:

Plus, Thiem also had crappy ATP cup, lost 2 out of 3 matches, to Borna Coric and Hubert Hurkacz who is tall and plays similar to Zverev.

Dave Says:

Thiem just played 4 hours and 10 minutes of physical tennis against Nadal. It says it’s 43 degrees today. That is so hot. Also, I noticed that changeovers are only 60 seconds at the AO but they are 90 everywhere else? So that means they are actually playing more tennis in those 4 hours and 10 minutes. Thiem also played a 5 set match earlier in the tournament. I know Thiem is the favorite on paper and is mentally stronger. But I’m going with Zverev in 5.

Wog Boy Says:

Yes, it’s 43 now, but it should start dropping around 6pm, by the the time match starts it’s predicted around 37 and gradually dropping, there is another element too, strong wind.

RZ Says:

Go Thiem!

Andy Mira Says:

I think i will go with Thiem in 4…this is 1st semi final for Sascha..maybe he will feel a bit ‘overwhelmed’?..and Dom already experienced this kind of big matches in a big stage a couple of times…so adv to Thiem i think…

I also really like his new found aggressiveness in his game…just hope he will wrap the match in under he won’t be tired on sunday…Thiem vs Novak would be an explosive match!

j-kath Says:

During Thiem’s game vs. Rafa, I was surprised to notice lots of similarities to Roger – not totally in his choice of shot – but how he walks, how he turns, and when one sees a side view of him, he’s almost like Roger’s younger brother.

Wog Boy Says:

I am calling it now, we have second finalist, it’s Thiem. Zverev is back into his insecurity and playing into the hands of Thiem.

Dave Says:

Wow. Zverev has completely turned this set around.

Dave Says:

Now I think Zverev will self destruct after that heart breaking set with 2 set points.

Daniel Says:

Thiem it is, third final. Too bad he has the Djoko wall in AO on the other side.
But I think we get the post possible final, maybe Wawa x Djoko would have more hype.

Hope it is a great final and if they olay at least one tiebreak to see of Thiembreaker continues his roll. He loss one to Fritz, but then won his last 5 in QF and Semis.

skeezer Says:

Congrats Thiem. The one handler lives! Rest up hope he recovers well so we can see a good match.

chrisford1 Says:

I missed 95% of the match, woke, saw it go 6-6 in the 4th, then the tiebreaker. It sounded like another fine match at the AO where people that were there or tuned in got their time and money’s worth. And the rest of us slept.
Maybe catch it on the reruns or a long highlight video.

Go Novak! (I like Thiem a good deal, but have to root for my guy Novak to narrow the Slam gap between him and Rafa/Fed to make it more interesting. And he gets #1 back.)

RZ Says:

Team Thiem!!! Fantastic.

Daniel Says:

An interesting stat, Djoko is 10-2 in his last 12 Slams finals, and guess who won those 2 matches? Wawrinka, a player with raw power and one hand BH similar to Thiem!

He is 4-0 in his last 4, so odds are even more agaisnt Thiem.

But, Thiem has the positive of beating Djoko last 2 times they played, incluidng RGs 18′ and 19′ to give him confidence. Actualyl Thiem is 4-1 on their last 5 matches, and the win Djoko got was on Madrid clay 2019 in 2 tiebreaks.

Huhn, I give the edge to Djoko but this match may be closer than many think.

Truth Says:

Good for Thiem. There’s no media propaganda to help him and intimidate opponents..

Frauderror gets pain and can’t compete at all despite claiming that he is not mentally weak.
His “easy game” isn’t copied by anyone. Otherwise, players could pull their groins or backs.
Without Novak surgery, Frauderror wouldn’t be congratulating himself for being Wimbledon champ. He was dismantled at Wimbledon & Australia every time Novak played him..

j-kath Says:

Djoko is going to have to go some vs Thiem.

Daniel Says:

Damm, if we look last 6 matches Thiem had with each of the Big 3 its as follows:

– 3-3 with Nadal
– 4-2 with Djoko
– 5-1 with Federer

Impressive how he is shifting gears and troubling all big 3. In the past he wasn’t able to sustain the same level for a whole year, let’s hope he can do it this year
Also already reaches 3 Slams finals out of the last 8.

Telperion Says:

Those are some interesting numbers, @Daniel. You always deliver quality comments and back them up with data. As you said, I don’t think it will be an easy match. The odds might favour Nole, but not by much and Thiem’s game and confidence is roaring high. I bet it will be a terrific match.

All out Says:

Stan the man gave the best version of djokovic all sort of problems a few years back with that raw power and ferocious backhand. Dominic takes it a notch higher. He’s got an unbelievable amount of power in his groundstrokes. If he keeps a cool head during the finals, we will see a new AO champion crowned. Go thiem!!!!

Daniel Says:

Thanks Telperion!😜

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