Dominic Thiem looks to keep an encouraging run of form going in Rotterdam on Friday when he takes on qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert for a place in the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament semi-finals.
Down on form and confidence heading into this week, World No. 8 Dominic Thiem is playing the best tennis of his 2017 season in Rotterdam. Can he move on at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament and make a first semi-final of the season? He will have to conquer big-hitting and underachieving French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert to do so.
Persisting with playing basically every week on the ATP World Tour despite admitting he’s feeling fatigued and could do with a rest, Thiem has discovered some energy this week in Rotterdam to advance through to the quarter-finals. The Austrian was tasked with the toughest opening round draw of any seed when he was put up against Montpellier champion Alexander Zverev, but Thiem produced some great tennis in patches to recover from a set down to down the rising star in three.
Thiem returned to action on Thursday night in Rotterdam when he squared off against Gilles Simon. Thiem had already recorded three wins over the crafty Frenchman, and despite Simon only relinquishing 15 points on serve throughout the contest, the 23-year-old raised his level on the big points to emerge triumphant, 6-4 7-6(4).
Following on from disappointing performances in January - quarter-final exits at Brisbane and Sydney and a R16 finish at the Australian Open - along with a lacklustre loss to World No. 87 Nikoloz Basilashvili in his Sofia opener last week, Thiem will now aim to progress to his first semi-final of 2017.
Standing in his way is dangerous French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Pierre-Hughes Herbert (Photo by KOEN SUYK/AFP/Getty Images)
Currently ranked 109 in the world at 25 years of age, Herbert has been threatening to make a singles breakthrough for a quite a while now, but for whatever reason, he can’t seem to push through to that next phase of his career.
Herbert is capable of going on nice runs - he made the final of Winston-Salem in 2015 after coming through qualifying, while four of his seven tour-level wins in 2016 came from reaching the third round at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. He also qualified in all five Masters 1000 main draws he contested. There’s no doubt Herbert is a top 50 talent, but he struggles to perform in lower-level ATP events, while he also focuses a lot of his attention into doubles, where he is a two-time major winner with compatriot Nicolas Mahut.
Speaking of nice runs, Herbert is certainly putting one of those together this week in Rotterdam. After defeating Ruben Bemelmans and Botic Van de Zandschulp in qualifying to reach the main draw, Herbert toppled Feliciano Lopez in two tiebreaks in his opener before overcoming Evgeny Donskoy 6-2 7-6(4) to secure his spot in the quarter-finals.
This will be the first meeting between the pair on tour, and it’s quite an interesting match-up. Thiem has enjoyed a somewhat resurgent week in Rotterdam, but I’m yet to be convinced that he’s back to top 10 form. Herbert is a little inexperienced at this level, but his menacing serve could mean the lottery of tiebreaks are involved. I’ll side with Thiem, but I give Herbert a solid chance of progressing.