Dominic Thiem will be bidding to win his maiden Master’s series title against two time Master’s titlist Alexander Zverev as they battle it out on Sunday at the Caja Majica in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open. The 24 year old Austrian, seeded fifth, will contest his second successive final in Madrid against the 21 year German. Both entered the finals in convincing fashion as they swept past their opponents in straight sets on Saturday.
One day after toppling the World number one Rafael Nadal of Spain, the Austrian is bidding to become only the fifth player in 2018 to have won multiple titles. Roger Federer, Roberto Bautista Agut, Juan Martin Del Potro and Rafael Nadal are the only men to have won two titles this year. Thiem had never been beaten Kevin Anderson in six meetings, but on Saturday on their first meeting on clay, Thiem won in only one hour twenty five minutes 6-4,6-2 in the first Semi-final in the afternoon session.
Anderson, seeded sixth, had won the inaugural tournament in New York in February, failed to convert on all the three break point chances against the fifth seeded Thiem who converted on three of the eight break point chances in the match. Thiem broke serve in the opening game of the match and then saved all three break point chances trailing 0-40 when serving for the opener, despite missing seven out of eight first serves in that game. He would take the first set in 49 minutes. He would then take an early lead in the second set and consolidate it with another break to go up 4-1. He improves to 10-2 in the Spanish capital, having lost in the final last year to the five time champion Rafael Nadal.
In the second semi final played in the evening session, the second seeded Alexander Zverev wasted little time in beating the 19 year old Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4,6-1 in only 56 minutes in an eagerly awaited encounter. Shapovalov who beaten fellow countryman Milos Raonic and then Kyle Edmund of England simply ran out of gas after dropping the first set. Zverev never faced a break point in the entire match and converted on all four opportunities in the match.
The third ranked Zverev, improves to 26-7 in the season and is bidding to win back to back titles in as many weeks, having claimed the Munich titles last Sunday. Zverev’s also had reached the final of the Miami Open by Itau losing to the American John Isner in what was his third Master’s final, having previously won in Rome last year on clay beating Novak Djokovic and then on the hard courts in Montreal beating Roger Federer. It was his first meeting against Shapovalov who has a 18-11 record in 2018. The Canadian is still looking to win his maiden ATP title.
Like Thiem who won the clay court event in Buenos Aires this year, Zverev also will be bidding for his second title of the year. Thiem has a tour best 26-6 record. Thiem will need to win the finals to retain his number seven ranking, while Zverev who is defending his title at the Italian Open next week is assured of retaining his number three ranking.
Prediction:- Thiem has a 4-1 record against Zverev, including a four set win at Roland Garros in 2016, however all their remaining four matches have gone to the decisive third set and one can expect the same trend to continue in the final. This match is too close to call but I expect Thiem to cap off a highly successful week where he inflicted Nadal his first loss in fifteen matches on clay this year. Thiem in three tight sets with atleast one set decided in a tie-break.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]