Alexander Zverev vs Dominic Thiem ATP Madrid tennis preview, predictions and tips: Thiem targets first Masters 1000 title against in-form second seed Zverev

Andrew Hendrie in ATP 13 May 2018
  • Alexander Zverev vs Dominic Thiem is live from Madrid at 6.30pm local time on Sunday (5.30pm BST)
  • Thiem has won four of their five previous meetings
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Madrid at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)
Alexander Zverev (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Second seed Alexander Zverev and fifth seed Dominic Thiem renew their rivalry as the pair square off for the Madrid Masters title at the Caja Magica on Sunday.

Watch and bet on Zverev vs Thiem live from Madrid at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify). The final begins at 6.30pm local time on Sunday (5.30pm BST).

Dominic Thiem targets a fourth clay-court victory in a row over Alexander Zverev and a maiden ATP Masters 1000 title when the duo clash for the Mutua Madrid Open crown on Sunday in the Spanish capital. Thiem and Zverev were familiar foes on the dirt in 2016, with the Austrian winning all three of their clay showdowns in Munich, Nice and the French Open - and this will be their first encounter on clay since. Zverev has gone on to leapfrog Thiem in terms of career achievements despite being three years his junior, picking up two Masters 1000 titles last season and rising to a career-high No. 3 in the world, while Thiem is still searching for his maiden Masters Series trophy - could Sunday see him reign supreme? Zverev and Thiem take to court at 6.30pm local time on Sunday (5.30pm BST).

On an eight-match winning streak after starting the season with losses to players outside the top 50 in three of his first four matches, Zverev has recaptured his best form over the last couple of months - and now the young German is just one more win away from capturing a third ATP Masters 1000 title. Already Zverev is the only player in the last 12 months (including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer) to reach four Masters 1000 finals and the only man to have made five Masters 1000 semi-finals, and if he can overcome Thiem on Sunday, he will become just the fifth active player to win three Masters 1000 titles, joining an illustrious club that includes Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Zverev hasn’t just won eight matches on the trot, he’s done so in emphatic fashion, prevailing in straight sets in the last seven. The 21-year-old’s winning streak started in his native Munich last week at the BMW Open, where after a tough three-set win over compatriot Yannick Hanfmann in the opening round, Zverev stormed to a seventh career ATP title with wins over Jan-Lennard Struff, Hyeon Chung (avenging his disappointing Australian Open loss) and Davis Cup teammate Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final, successfully defending his title.

This time last season, Zverev arrived in Madrid with the Munich title under his belt - but he didn’t benefit from a first round bye as he was ranked 19 in the world. However, fast forward 12 months and Zverev arrived at the Caja Magica as the World No. 3 and second seed, and after enjoying some much-needed rest and recovery courtesy of a first round bye, Zverev has continued his fine run of form, advancing into the final without relinquishing a set with wins over Evgeny Donskoy, Leonardo Mayer, John Isner (avenging his Miami Masters final defeat) and rising star Denis Shapovalov. Zverev dropped just five games against Shapovalov in Saturday’s semi-finals, taking a tight opening set before running away with the contest in the end, prevailing by a 6-4 6-1 scoreline.

"I've been in this moment before. We've played each other in this moment before," Zverev said, referencing the pair’s previous semi-final meeting in Montreal last season. "I'm just happy to be in the final and play for another Masters [1000] title."


Zverev has now won 16 of his last 18 matches dating back to the start of the Miami Masters. With disappointing defeats against the likes of Hyeon Chung, Andreas Seppi and Joao Sousa earlier in 2018, Zverev finally hit his straps in Miami, and he hasn’t looked back since, taking out the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric and Pablo Carreno Busta to make the final in Key Biscayne, while he advanced to the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, going down to a resurgent Kei Nishikori. Zverev hasn’t lost since - can he extend his winning streak into a third Masters 1000 title on Sunday?

Dominic Thiem (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Dominic Thiem meanwhile is attempting to win his first Masters 1000 crown, with his only previous appearance in a final at this level coming 12 months ago in Madrid, where he went down to Rafael Nadal. Thiem well and truly erased that memory a couple of days ago inside the Caja Magica, snapping Nadal’s 21-match and 50-set winning streak on clay, conquering the King of Clay in straight sets as he announced himself as a genuine contender for the French Open.

Thiem had earlier battled to three-set triumphs over Federico Delbonis and Borna Coric after dropping the opening set in both matches, but his victory over Nadal has elevated him to new levels of confidence after a lacklustre start to the clay season (to be fair, Thiem has been recovering from an ankle injury sustained in Indian Wells in March). The Austrian came into his semi-final showdown against Kevin Anderson with a daunting 0-6 record, but he was untroubled against the big-serving South African, ultimately cruising to a 6-4 6-2 win to make back-to-back Madrid Masters finals.

"It gave me a huge boost of confidence," Thiem said of his win over Nadal. "That's for sure. But at the same time, it was a completely different matchup today. There was also the fact that I never beat him. It was 0-6 before today. Some things were a little bit shaky.
"I was keeping my level up from yesterday, so that was a great thing. The way I started was also well. Even though I played really different, I was returning very far back today. Yeah, almost everything worked out. To beat him 4 and 2, it's a very good result."

Thiem will receive an extra boost of confidence for the final by virtue of the way he was able to dismantle Anderson after such a monumental victory the day before. Last season, Thiem scored two huge victories on clay, toppling Rafael Nadal in Rome and Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros. However, the adrenaline and energy used in clinching those two triumphs left him gassed for his next outing in those two tournaments, with Thiem copping a bagel in straight sets losses to Djokovic and Nadal respectively. There were question marks over Thiem’s ability to back up his Nadal win against Anderson - especially considering he had lost all six of their previous encounters - but the way he was able to win with such ease bodes well for Sunday’s final.

Seven of Thiem’s nine career titles have come on clay, with the Austrian owning wins over Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka and Zverev on the surface. The Austrian has done more than enough to warrant winning one of the big clay-court titles, but can he hold his nerve when it matters most. Thiem was dominant over Zverev in their last three clay battles, but those came two years ago when the German wasn’t operating at the level he is now. Thiem has also improved, and his muscular brand of tennis has been executed to perfection in his last two matches, so this should be a highly entertaining showdown. Zverev, for all his great form, hasn’t really been tested this week - and that is sure to change on Sunday. Thiem has done all the hard work this week - I’m going to back the Austrian home for his first Masters title.



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Alexander Zverev vs Dominic Thiem ATP Madrid tennis preview, predictions and tips: Thiem targets first Masters 1000 title against in-form second seed Zverev

Second seed Alexander Zverev and fifth seed Dominic Thiem renew their rivalry as the pair square off for the Madrid Masters title at the Caja Magica on Sunday.

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