Before his match against Novak Djokovic on Sunday afternoon Dominic Thiem said to Mark Petchey “against a guy (Djokovic) like that, there is no plan” I thought he might have been just keeping his cards close to his chest but it was evident after set one that wasn’t the case.
Set one was all or nothing and to be fair to Thiem he played very well and served incredibly well against an unsettled Djokovic but like I said it was all or nothing and the Austrian ended up leaving with nothing as once the defending champion found his feet Dominic wasn’t in the match.
The first set was entertaining and competitive but I believe it was Novak’s level which made it close the moment he switched it on everything fell apart for the Austrian who served so well in set one but couldn’t find any momentum on serve in the final couple of sets winning just two games.
I do think he needs to come up with a plan in his next match. What I liked about his game was the variety on serve especially in set one and the rhythm he got off the forehand which gave him confidence in rallies what I wasn’t keen on was the backhand but the slice in particular.
The backhand as we know is a good weapon but compare his to Stan’s. Stan’s is great and can depend on it but can Thiem depend on his multiple times in rallies? I’m not sure…
The backhand slice is one of my favourite shots in tennis, I call it a game changer but when Dominic played it I felt nervous watching I felt it was just denying the inevitable and there is a difference between staying in a rally and denying the inevitable, once that slice came into play I felt Djokovic was in charge.
Thiem will play Monfils next and we saw that he didn’t perform too well against Raonic and seemed to struggle with the quickness of the court so for Thiem he needs to find that rhythm on his serve which saw in set one again. Especially that kicker out wide and the serve down the T.
On the ad side in set one he went for kick serve out wide 46% of the time and on the deuce side went for the serve down the T 56% of the time which kept Novak guessing when it worked, when it didn’t in set two and three Djokovic was all over it.
I want to see Thiem go for these two serves against Monfils but also stick to the forehand for as long as possible before unleashing that backhand looking for that flat winner up the line or cross-court.
If I were Monfils I’d watch a rerun of Thiem v Djokovic and making sure I go with depth and get him slicing and I hope Thiem can just stick away from the slice especially against Gael who will try to come up with some spectacular!