Can Dominic Thiem back up his triumph over Rafael Nadal and reach back-to-back Madrid finals?

Andrew Hendrie in ATP 12 May 2018
  • Thiem trying to make consecutive Madrid finals
  • The Austrian beat Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals but has never defeated his semi-final rival Kevin Anderson
  • 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)
Dominic Thiem (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)

After taking out Rafael Nadal and ending the defending Madrid Masters champion’s 21-match and 50-set winning streak on clay, will Dominic Thiem be able to continue on in the Spanish capital and make back-to-back finals inside the Caja Magica?

Watch and bet on Thiem vs Anderson 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). Their semi-final begins at 4.00pm local time on Saturday (3.00pm BST).

With previous experience of making it to the final day of the Madrid Masters and fresh from knocking out the King of Clay in a destructive straight sets dispatch, surely Dominic Thiem should be favourite to beat sixth seed Kevin Anderson on Saturday? The numbers - and Thiem’s history after beating big-name opponents on European clay - suggest otherwise.


Thiem vs Anderson rivalry

YearTournamentSurfaceRoundWinnerScore
2017Washington D.C.HardR16Anderson6-3 6-7(6) 7-6(7)
2016Canada MastersHardR32Anderson4-1 RET
2015Paris MastersHardR32Anderson6-7(3) 7-6(4) 7-6(5)
2015U.S. OpenHardR32Anderson6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(3)
2014TokyoHardR32Anderson7-6(5) 6-4
2014Australian OpenHardR64Anderson6-4 6-3 6-4


The above table is not a typo. Anderson, the reigning U.S. Open runner-up and one of the most improved players on the ATP World Tour, is a flawless 6-0 against Thiem in their head-to-head and has won 13 of the 15 sets they’ve played. Furthermore, the Austrian has never won a set without needing a tiebreaker, illustrating just how difficult he finds it to get a read on the towering South African’s booming serve.

But, that table can also be a bit misleading. First of all, every single one of those matches were played on hardcourt, which obviously favours Anderson. Another is the fact that only one completed match of the pair’s six encounters has been played since Thiem hit his current high level of tennis - and he led 5-3 in the deciding set and had a match point before succumbing 7-6(7) in the third of their showdown in Washington D.C. Anderson of course went on to reach the U.S. Open final just a few weeks later.


So, with all that in mind, Thiem should be getting closer to a maiden victory over Anderson. However, there’s also some other evidence that is against him on Saturday.

Dominic Thiem (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)
Two times during the European clay season last year, Thiem played some thunderous tennis to complete some monumental triumphs. The first came in the quarter-finals of Rome when Thiem conquered Nadal by a 6-4 6-3 scoreline, while the second came at Roland Garros as the Austrian took out Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, 7-6(5) 6-3 6-0.

Clearly Thiem put everything he had into those matches, and you could see how much it affected him as he returned for his next outing. Gassed and lacking energy, Thiem lost 6-1 6-0 to Djokovic after defeating Nadal in Rome, while he was defeated 6-3 6-4 6-0 by Nadal following his victory over Djokovic at the French Open. That’s two bagels (albeit by two legendary players) after huge wins. With all the euphoria and adrenaline of registering two career-best wins, it’s only natural that you feel kind of flat the following day. That’s something Thiem will need to learn to deal with if he wants to win Masters 1000 titles and Grand Slams in the future - and the next couple of days in Madrid will prove telling in that regard.

Anderson is one of the most meticulous players on tour and gives his opposition nothing. Thiem will need to work just as hard as he did against Nadal and repeat that performance against a player who he has traditionally struggled against. The South African will also pose a different kind of test to Thiem with his serve - Anderson has fired down 45 acs in three matches in Madrid, with the altitude benefitting him greatly.

Thiem has already completed the most challenging task in tennis at the moment, but can he put it behind him, recover in less than 24 hours and come out and repeat that display against a man he is 0-6 against to reach just a second ATP Masters 1000 final? It will be fascinating to see what unfolds inside the Caja Magica on Saturday.


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Can Dominic Thiem back up his triumph over Rafael Nadal and reach back-to-back Madrid finals?

After taking out Rafael Nadal and ending the defending Madrid Masters champion’s 21-match and 50-set winning streak on clay, will Dominic Thiem be able to continue on in the Spanish capital and make back-to-back finals inside the Caja Magica?

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