Dominic Thiem and His Generation The Lowdown Tomic Sock Vesely

Dominic Thiem

Photo courtesy of sportmedia.mk

Dominic Thiem is currently leading his generation, (players born between 1993 and 1995), in the rise to the top of the world rankings. The Tennis Review takes a look at these young players, what they have achieved, where they are now and what might lie ahead.

Dominic Thiem, 22 years old

Thiem is on a real roll this season- in February alone he won two titles, (Buenos Aires, Acapulco), made the semis of Rio, and beat two top tenners in Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer.

That success won’t have come as a surprise to anyone following Thiem’s career the last couple of seasons.

The 2011 French Open junior runner-up (defeated by Bjorn Frantangelo) has had some success at slams, making the US Open 2014 fourth round, and is 11-9 overall at the game’s biggest events.

In 2014, he beat Stan Wawrinka, who was then the reigning Australian Open and Monte Carlo champ, in the second round of Madrid.

Thiem’s first final was at the 2014 Kitzbuhel event, which he lost to David Goffin. He won his first title at Nice 2015, and followed it up with titles in Umag and Gstaad.

One of the most encouraging aspects about Thiem is that his game keeps developing. Thiem has always been famous for his signature shot, his one handed backhand, but these past few months, his serve has become a real weapon and he seems set on finishing points as early as possible on the back of his steady point construction which allows him to set the points up with high percentage tennis and then hit winners when the time is right.

That development is what has helped him earn his biggest achievement- the ATP 500 Acapulco title-off clay, and will only add to his clay court skills. In a very physical game like men’s tennis, a big serve and the quick points it can bring, could save him a lot of energy in big matches.

You can be sure that Thiem is going to be present for a lot of big matches in future. His big match experience is growing, he is very capable of handling the pressure of beating those ranked below him, and he bounces back from defeat quickly. Look at how he came back to win Acapulco after what must have been a tough defeat to Guido Pella at the Rio Open just a week before.

Indeed, Thiem has hunger and fight in spades- his match point saving win over Rafa Nadal in Buenos Aires was a great example of that– and that combined with his weapons and mental toughness is going to set him up nicely for quite a few shots at the French Open title.

Thiem’s recent rise comes along at a good time prospects wise. While Djokovic may still be dominating, Federer, Nadal, and Murray have not won slams for a couple of years, and the time of the likes of Berdych, Ferrer, and Tsonga’s is really running out. Meanwhile, the Nishikori generation seems a little lost. There could be a window in a couple of years for Thiem and his generation to push through, and the Austrian will, if recent evidence is anything to go by, be at the front of the pack.

Strengths: Thiem is as professional as it gets- focused, hard-working, and well-behaved on court. Thiem also has a good serve, great point construction and an aggressive mindset, and of course that one-handed backhand.

Weaknesses: With today’s game being so physical, Thiem’s weakness is one many of his generation and the one below share- fitness. He was pretty ineffective against Guido Pella in his Rio semi, the week after winning Buenos Aires, losing in straights.

The Austrian has also failed to play his best tennis on big points versus the game’s biggest players, namely Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal. In his matches versus Djokovic in Miami, and against Rafa Nadal in Monte Carlo, Thiem played great aggressive tennis only to withdraw on break points, failing to convert 13 in Miami and 18 in Monte Carlo.

That weakness needs to be tackled as soon as possible- Thiem is likely to be battling in big matches on a regular basis and the more he fails on the big points in those matches, the harder it is going to be to progress to the next level which is competing at the business end of ATP 1000s and Grand Slams.

The look on Thiem’s face, however, after that Nadal loss told us he would be fixing that problem soon, and that next time the likes of Djokovic and Nadal might not be so lucky.

Slam he is most likely to succeed at: Roland Garros

Bernard Tomic, 23

Tomic

Photo courtesy of Steven Pisano at Flickr.com (creative commons license)

You could write a book about Bernard Tomic already and he is only 23. The Australian’s career has been marked by one controversy after another, the most relevant being his lack of fight at times (see his 2012 US Open performance versus Andy Roddick which led to tanking accusations directed at him.)

The vitriol Tomic received after that match was a compliment of sorts – if people did not think he had the talent to become a future No.1, then they would not have been so vocal.

Strengths: Tomic is a versatile player with fine touch and a nice serve, and an awkward slice. Those skills have seen him reach a slam quarter-final (Wimbledon 13), win titles in Bogata (2014, 2015) and Sydney (2013), and reach the Australian fourth round twice.

Weaknesses: For all the talent he may have, Tomic seems to undermine it with enough off court problems to keep his entire generation distracted. Negative emotions can also overwhelm him on court and result in outbursts or less than convincing performances. Tomic can also give up if things do not go his way (Quito this year), and unless he can resolve those issues he may never get it together to achieve all the great things that could lay in store for him such as slam titles (Wimbledon and the US Open would be most likely) and a stint at the top of the ATP rankings.

The good news is all those weaknesses can be overcome, and if they are, his strengths will take Tomic far.

Slam he is most likely to succeed at: Wimbledon

Jack Sock, 23

Sock

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Liquido at flickr (creative commons license)

Jack Sock is a big serving, aggressive player from the US, who won the 2010 US Open Juniors tournament, beating Denis Kudla in the final. That achievement was impressive in itself, but was made even more remarkable by the fact it was only his second ever Junior Slam played, and his last.

Sock entered the top 100 of the pro rankings on July 8th 2013  after a nice run which saw him qualifying for Roland Garros and making the second round (beat Guillermo Gracia-Lopez in the main draw) and winning the Winnetka challenger.

Sock fell in and out of the top 100 until Spring 2014 and by the end of the year he was ranked 42.

In 2015, he won his first title in Houston beating Kevin Anderson in the Semis and Sam Querrey in the final. He also reached the last 16 of Roland Garros where he took a set off Nadal, beat Gasquet in the last 16 of the Citi Open, beat Gasquet again on his run to the Stockholm final where he lost to Berdych, and beat Isner on his way to the Basel semis.

This season, he started well by beating Ferrer on his way to the Auckland final but he had to retire injured versus Bautista Agut.

Sock also made the Houston final but lost in three tough sets to Juan Monaco as he struggled with fitness.

Sock has potential to be a top five player, and his success on all surfaces (he is also a Wimbledon doubles champion with Vasek Pospisil in 2014) means he could have deep runs at any of the ATP 1000s and Slams.

Strengths: A big serve and first strike tennis.

Weaknesses: Fitness. The American struggles if matches go the distance.

Slam he is most likely to succeed at: US Open.

Jiri Vesely, 22

Vesely

Photo courtesy of robbiesaurus at Flickr.com (creative commons license)

Vesely, the 2011 US Open Boys juniors runner-up, has some big weapons with his huge serve and ground-strokes and he showcased them best when he took the 2015 Auckland title on outdoor hard as a qualifier.

Vesely looked like he might be ready to breakthrough in 2015 when he built on his Auckland win with a final appearance on clay in Bucharest in late April, but he did not win more than two consecutive ATP matches until the US Open, and he only achieved the same feat once more the rest of the year in Shenzhen where he beat Ze Zhang, ranked 216, and Zhizhen Zhang, ranked 583, before falling to Berdych.

This year, if you had not heard of Vesely before the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, his second round upset of Novak Djokovic would have changed that. The Czech put in a career best performance to shock the world No.1 in his first ATP clay match of the season.

Strengths: Vesely has a huge serve and big shots. If he gets into a rhythm, he is hard to beat.

Weaknesses: As hot as Vesely can get, he can also plunge into very cold waters in a sea of errors.

Slam he is most likely to succeed at: The US Open

Thiem, Tomic, Vesely, and Sock are the four biggest achievers of their generations so far. Here’s a brief look at their fellow top 100 members. 

Denis Kudla

Kudla

Photo courtesy of robbiesaurus @fllickr.com (creative commons license)

Denis Kudla’s deepest run at an ATP event came at the 2015 BT&T Open, Atlanta, beating Jack Sock on his way to a three set semi-final loss to John Isner. That run came on the back of a run to the fourth round of Wimbledon where he lost to Marin Cilic.

Kyle Edmund, 21

Edmund

Photo courtesy of Marianne Bevis at Flickr.com (creative commons license)

Edmund has come to the tennis world’s attention mostly on the red clay- reaching the French Open second round in 2015 and leading David Goffin by two sets to love in the first rubber of the Davis Cup final that same year.

Diego Schwartzman, 23

Schwartzman

Photo courtesy of Steven Pisano at Flickr.com (Creative commons license)

Schwartzman, from Argentina, made the semis of Istanbul in 2016.

Taro Daniel, 23

Daniel

Photo courtesy of Marianne Bevis at Flickr.com (Creative commons license)

Daniel is a counter-puncher who has had most of his success on clay including a run to the quarter-finals of the Chile Open in 2014.

Lucas Pouille, 22

Pouille

Photo courtesy of Mathys Cresson at Flickr.com (Creative commons License)

Pouille is a much-talked about player this year after his run to the Brisbane semi-finals which saw him defeat then 16th ranked David Goffin in the fourth round.

Pouille has had some nice runs in his short career such as getting to the Paris Masters last 16 in 2014 where he beat Karlovic and Fognini before losing to Federer.

Much of Pouille’s pro success has come on clay. In 2015, he defeated Thiem in Monte Carlo’s first round, and in Hamburg, he beat Monaco and Paire on his way to the semis

Marco Cecchinato, 23

Cecchinato

Photo courtesy of Vale Alemanno at Flickr.com (Creative commons license)

Cecchinato only competed in his first slam last year at the US Open where he lost to Mardy Fish in the first round in four sets.

Damir Dzumhur, 23

Dzumhur

Photo courtesy of www.rtvusk.ba

Dzumhur, a former junior No.3, won his first main draw ATP match in 2015 when he saved two match points versus Michael Berrer in the opening round of Zagreb.  He reached the semis of Casablanca,  and beat Youzhny and Baghdatis before losing to Federer at Roland Garros.

In 2016, Dzumhir is 5-6 beat Kyle Edmund in five sets in the Australian Open first round before losing to David Goffin.

At the 2016 Miami Open he defeated Rafael Nadal in the second round when the Spaniard had to withdraw down in the third set with heat illness.

In his next event, Dzumhur beat Tomas Berdych in the second round of Monte Carlo and then pushed Milos Raonic to a final set tiebreak in the last sixteen.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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