After being shocked by Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane, Dominic Thiem aims to make his first semifinal of 2017 at the Apia International Sydney as he takes on Dan Evans on Thursday at 6.30pm local time/7.30am BST.
World no. 8 Dominic Thiem takes on Dan Evans for a place in the semifinals of the Apia International Sydney on Thursday.
It should come as no surprise that the one top-10 player on the ATP World Tour who is competing in this week’s events is Dominic Thiem, the world no. 8 whose famously packed schedule in 2016 doesn’t look like lightening up much in 2017. The Austrian played no fewer than 82 matches during his 2016 season, winning 58 of them and shooting up the rankings from world no. 20 to a career-high of world no. 7 after a stellar first five months of the season which included titles in Buenos Aires, Acapulco and Nice, a runner-up finish in Munich and semifinal appearances in Brisbane, Rio and finally at the French Open, his first Grand Slam semifinal.
23-year-old Thiem went on to finish runner-up in Stuttgart and Metz, but he looked increasingly exhausted from the high-water mark of Roland Garros onwards and definitely ran out of steam as the season drew to a close. The Austrian made his debut at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, but failed to reach the semifinals, losing to Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic and scoring a mildly face-saving victory over Gael Monfils, who was clearly in no shape to compete.
Thiem has been defiant about his packed schedule and hasn’t noticeably lightened his playing commitments for 2017 – in fact, he’s played both of the available weeks of competition leading into the first Grand Slam of the year, appearing at last week’s Brisbane International where he lost to eventual champion Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals and this week, playing at the Apia International Sydney (where scorching temperatures have left players struggling).
The top seed opened his campaign with a marathon three-set win over Gastao Elias, a player who seems to pose a difficult question for the Austrian. Thiem eventually won 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 40 minutes to set up a quarterfinal clash with Dan Evans.
Apia International Sydney 2017 live stream: ATP tennis live from Sydney
Great Britain’s Dan Evans comes into the Apia International Sydney ranked world no. 67, having hit a career high of world no. 53 in 2016. The 26-year-old’s commitment to his tennis career has, to put it mildly, fluctuated wildly over the years and he started the 2016 season at world no. 183. After qualifying for the Australian Open, reaching a Challenger final in Dallas and winning titles in Drummondville and Taipei, Evans was back in the top 100 by June and went on to reach the third round of Wimbledon. Evans went on to reach the third round of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. and picked up another Challenger title in Aptos before knocking Alexander Zverev out of the US Open to reach the third round, where he held match point on eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in a five-set defeat.
Evans played just four more matches in 2016, losing three of them – including a crucial Davis Cup singles rubber against Leonardo Mayer during Great Britain’s semifinal defeat to Argentina – and should therefore have been at least well-rested when he teamed up with Heather Watson to represent Great Britain at the Hopman Cup in Perth last week. It was hardly an auspicious debut, with Evans losing all three singles matches he played at the week-long exhibition event – against Roger Federer, Richard Gasquet and Alexander Zverev – in straight sets.
Things have been going a little better for Evans in Sydney, where he is playing for the first time. The world no. 67 beat qualifier Thiago Monteiro 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the first round before ousting eighth seed Marcel Granollers 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach his first ATP World Tour quarterfinal of the season.
Thiem and Evans have never played, but the Austrian should be heavily favoured to win this match. He is reminiscent of Stan Wawrinka with his heavy groundstrokes off both wings and a more powerful player than Evans, as is reflected in his higher ranking. He should be able to punish the weaker Evans serve, and although Evans is perfectly capable of lifting his game to threaten higher-ranked players, he didn’t do it last week at Hopman Cup against three of them. On the other hand, Thiem as a top-10 player does have to factor in the approaching Australian Open and the conditions in Sydney are brutally hot. It’s possible that if Evans can make life difficult for Thiem, drag him into some protracted rallies and generally make him work as hard as possible, the Austrian might decide on some level that it isn’t worth pushing himself to his limits with Melbourne looming. Otherwise one would expect Thiem to come through to the semifinals in Sydney in short order.
Thiem vs Evans is scheduled on court in Sydney on Thursday at 6.30pm local/7.30am GMT