Dominic Thiem’s forehand is his best shot but is the explosive backhand slightly holding him back in major finals?

There is no doubt in my mind that Dominic Thiem will win a major, when that will be however remains a question.

Having won at Indian Wells last year he picked up his first Masters 1000 title and once again was runner-up in Paris and likewise in London at the World Tour Finals.

This year he of course defeated Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the Australian Open before losing that thrilling five set battle to Novak Djokovic in which he led in.

Dominic Thiem’s game is built on the flair of his groundstrokes. The shot everyone talks about is his one-handed backhand. It is what I call his ‘Hollywood’ shot, a bit like how Stan strikes his backhand, Rafa’s banana forehand, Djokovic’ backhand and so on.

The main shot for me is the forehand and the unpredictability of it and you can see this below:

Screenshot 2020-01-29 at 18.07.16

Set point in the first set tie-break, Thiem backs up into that inside-out position and flicks the forehand up the line. Because of the options to Thiem it means Nadal can’t commit to either down the line or cross court.

Screenshot 2020-01-29 at 18.07.24

Similar story earlier on in the rally, you can see the options and how Nadal expects the forehand cross-court which is what comes but keeps you thinking at the back of the court.

Screenshot 2020-01-29 at 18.08.36

For me, this is the one that stood out the most. Nadal’s position here screams respect but also, I can get to either of these forehands.

Dominic wins the point with the forehand down the line and this shot for me has been the main elevation in his success but his backhand is quite phenomenal but is he profiting from it?

Novak Djokovic as an opponent grinds you down and I felt like during some extended rallies during this final it got to a stage where Thiem thought “just go for it” and it didn’t go to plan. We see more success with Thiem leading from the backhand on a clay court but on these fast hard courts patience is key.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 22.25.13

Thiem got broken at this point but did go onto win the set,  having watched it back I picked out 11 errors down the line from the backhand in the match. This one went terribly long and it the furthest one away from the baseline highlighted.

I love what Dominic Thiem brings to a tennis court and I’m not saying the backhand down the line is bad for moment as we’ve seen him turn matches with this shot but consistency isn’t there.

I felt like Djokovic when he came back into the final ground down the defence of Thiem to a point where he couldn’t get that inside-out forehand into play and it showed. You can see from Novak’s position he is expecting it but isn’t scrambling and he never really did.

I like the shot, one of the best for me has to be Wawrinka’s but in pressure moments I think it does come with an element of doubt which you could say about any shot but you are leaving yourself with a small margin of error be as you are looking to paint that line.

Dominic is 27 later this year so I would say any big change is not going to happen but  I have always thought he could hit a two hander and just open up the court and keep rallies going.


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