Dominic Thiem aims to crown an excellent run on the Golden Swing with the biggest title of his career at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco – but he has to get past Bernard Tomic first.
Tomic vs Thiem Abierto Mexicano Telcel tennis is live from Acapulco on Saturday at 9pm local/3am GMT. Watch & bet on tennis live from Acapulco at 365
Either Dominic Thiem or Bernard Tomic will win the biggest title of their careers at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel on Saturday as they face off for the 500-level title in Acapulco.
The Abierto Mexicano Telcel, an increasingly popular 500-level stop on the ATP World Tour since its switch to hard courts, will crown a new champion on Saturday as Thiem and Tomic clash for the title as former champions David Ferrer and Grigor Dimitrov, as well as second seed Kei Nishikori, all failed to reach the semifinals in Acapulco.
Neither man has claimed a 500-level title before. Tomic has won three 250-level titles – Sydney 2013 and Bogota 2014 and 2015 – while Thiem has four at the same level, all on clay: Nice, Gstaad and Umag 2015 and Buenos Aires just a couple of weeks ago, so victory in Acapulco would be a major milestone for either.
‘I’ve played well in 250 events and in Grand Slams, but never in 500s,’ Tomic noted. ‘I’m very happy to be in a final now.’
For Thiem, this Acapulco run crowns a very positive Golden Swing. After a very positive 2015 season, which saw the young Austrian reach a Masters Series quarterfinal in Miami and the semifinals in St Petersburg as well as the trio of clay-court 250 titles already mentioned, Thiem has already hit a career-high ranking of world no. 15 in 2016. A semifinalist in Brisbane, where he beat Marin Cilic before losing to Roger Federer, Thiem exited in the third round of the Australian Open but it’s on the clay courts of South America that he has really come to life. Thiem captured a stellar win over King of Clay Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of Buenos Aires before defeating Nicolas Almagro in the final, and went on to beat another top-10 player and clay-court champion, David Ferrer, in the quarterfinals in Rio de Janeiro before falling to Guido Pella.
Clay has traditionally been Thiem’s strongest surface but the young Austrian, still just 22 years old, made the switch to hard courts in Acapulco without missing a beat, dropping just one set against Dmitry Tursunov in the second round before beating 2014 Acapulco champion Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals and producing a quite dazzling display of shotmaking against big-serving Delray Beach champion Sam Querrey in the semifinals, winning 6-2, 6-2 to reach his second final of the season.
Dominic Thiem (Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images)
‘Thiem is an amazing player on defence and gets a lot of balls back,’ Tomic said of his Acapulco final opponent, which is true as far as it goes, but it’s the offensive side of his game which Thiem has distinctly improved in 2016.
It will be fascinating to see how the new and improved Thiem matches up against Tomic, who he has never played. And, of course, one never really knows what to expect from ‘Bernie’, who won’t care for the fact that he has recently been leapfrogged in the rankings by Thiem.
Abierto Mexicano Telcel 2016 live stream: How to watch and bet on Acapulco tennis live
While off-court exploits have generally overshadowed Tomic’s on-court achievements over the past couple of seasons, 2015 may have seen some off-court headlines – notably Tomic’s Miami arrest in the spring for trespassing, which was later overturned – but it also saw Tomic record a 40-27 win-loss over the year. Tomic’s highlights in 2015 included the successful defense of his Bogota title as well as a semifinal appearance in Delray Beach, quarterfinal runs in Brisbane, Sydney, Memphis, Acapulco, Indian Wells, Stuttgart and Shanghai and reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, and the Australian seems much more committed to making the most of his undeniable talent in 2016.
Tomic started 2016 with a run to the semifinals of the Brisbane International, defeating Kei Nishikori on the way, but undid much goodwill with an apparent ‘tanking’ retirement in the Sydney quarterfinals – which followed a public declaration of his love for the tournament, and more immediately, an audible conversation with the umpire about how pointless it was for him to be playing Sydney when he had a good draw at the Australian Open. That draw saw him through to the round of 16, where he lost in straight sets to Andy Murray, and he did not cover himself in glory in ensuing tournaments in Quito, where he lost in the quarterfinals to Paolo Lorenzi, or Delray Beach, where he lost in the first round to Rajeev Ram (although admittedly Ram did go on to reach the final).
Tomic avenged that defeat to Ram in the first round of Acapulco and has only dropped one set on his way to the final, a stellar comeback against Alexandr Dolgopolov in the semifinals.
Thiem and Tomic have never played before so there is little in that sense to go on when looking at this match-up. Hard courts are probably a better surface for Tomic than Thiem, but the Austrian is supremely confident after his fantastic results of late and if he can produce the same kind of intelligent, offensive shotmaking against Tomic that he came up with against Querrey, Tomic won’t get much of a chance to use his bag of tricks. It could be an intriguing final in Acapulco.
Thiem and Tomic are scheduled on Cancha Central in Acapulco at 9pm local/3am GMT