Monte Carlo Last 16 Preview Rafa Nadal Versus Dominic Thiem


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Tennis’ greatest ever clay courter Rafa Nadal takes on Dominic Thiem, a potential great on the surface himself, in the last sixteen of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. The Tennis Review previews the action and predicts the winner.

Dominic Thiem’s three set win over Rafa Nadal in the Buenos Aires semi-finals kickstarted a tremendous run for the Austrian which saw him win the title, make the semis of Rio, win his first ATP 500 event (Acapulco), and reach back to back ATP last sixteens in Indian Wells and Miami.

Since that loss to Thiem in Argentina, Nadal has been showing signs of improvement. At Indian Wells, the Spaniard saved a match point on his way to beating in-form Alexander Zverev and he held a set point in the first set versus Novak Djokovic in the semis, the furthest he had taken the Serb since beating him in the Roland Garros 2014 final.

That momentum was disrupted in Miami when he pulled out with heat sickness in the third round versus Damir Dzumhur, but that unlucky interruption should not have any effect on Nadal in Monte Carlo. If Nadal is going to feel comfortable anywhere, and get some of his confidence back, it is going to be at the Rolex Masters where he has won the title 8 times.

The Spaniard had a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 opening round win versus Aljaz Bedene, though he did fail to serve out for the first set at 5-1, and the second at 5-2.

Thiem, meanwhile, has been struggling in his opening Monte Carlo matches. The world No. 14 had a cyst on a toe which caused him to have a hard time in his opener versus Jan-Lennard Struff and he dropped the first set to Taro Daniel in round two before taking the next two sets for the loss of just two games.

Yet despite that physical impediment, Thiem still fought to come through in his first round, and those final two sets versus Taro showed the Austrian was feeling comfortable on the clay once more- a fact that will be dangerous for Nadal who could not have come up against a trickier opponent in the last sixteen.

This match is an important one for both men and the fact it will take place so early in both their clay court campaigns has both pros and cons.

Nadal has a great chance to reassert himself on clay with a victory, especially with Djokovic now out of the draw, while a defeat to one of his biggest challengers on the surface could set him back confidence wise.

Meanwhile Thiem has a great opportunity to equal his best ATP 1000 run after his last eight finish in Miami in 2015 but also risks his momentum stalling if he fails to deliver in a match in which though he is the lower seed (12), he is, in many eyes, the favorite.

Thiem should handle the pressure a little better considering he has both the psychological edge after his win over Nadal in Buenos Aires and the confidence that a great start to the season should give him.

Nadal, though, should not be written off. His vast experience and overall quality could come to life at any moment, and he will be well- prepared versus an opponent many are touting as a future Roland Garros champion.

Prediction: Thiem to win in three tough sets. The Austrian has shown great improvements this season and this match should bring out the best in him, and his best, this season, is better than Nadal’s.

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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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