Preview: Thiem & Medvedev Ready For Long Night In US Open SF
Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev have put their focus on each match in front of them this fortnight, but are very aware this is the first US Open semi-final lineup since 2003 to not include anyone in the Big Three. Both men arrive in peak form for their semi-final match on Friday and are hungry to move one step closer to a maiden Grand Slam title.
”There is no Roger, Rafa or Novak, but there is Daniil, Sascha and Pablo. They are three amazing players,” Thiem said. “Every single one of us deserves his first major title.”
Thiem leads 2-1 in his ATP Head2Head rivalry with Medvedev, but the Russian won their most recent showdown last year in Montreal. Medvedev only lost four games and won 16 of the first 17 points in the second set of that quarter-final clash.
“I would say that he comes very close to the Big Three in terms of how he can play his top level for… four, five, six hours. That’s going to be really difficult,” Thiem said. “But I’m looking forward to that one. I think it’s going to be a big stage. It’s going to be a great semi-final.”
After a shocking opening-round defeat two weeks ago at the Western & Southern Open, Thiem needed time to regain his confidence. He advanced through his first three rounds at the US Open with spurts of patchy form. But once he reached the second week, his game kicked into high gear. Thiem only dropped 15 games combined against Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex de Minaur, sending a clear message that he wants to be the last man standing on Sunday.
Thiem will need to utilise heavy topspin, particularly on the backhand wing, in order to get on top of rallies against Medvedev. The Russian’s flatter groundstrokes are more difficult to execute when he’s forced to hit balls above his shoulder. But even for a player of Thiem’s calibre, finding the sweet spot of pinpoint accuracy and power required to win points against Medvedev won’t be an easy task.
Medvedev has also displayed dominant form this fortnight. The 24-year-old hasn’t dropped a set and has only been broken three times in 68 service games (96%). Although not known as a big server, his placement has been impeccable and set him up to control the rallies against his opponents.
He’s also been equally imposing when returning. Medvedev has converted 25 of 48 break points (52%) and won 25 of 66 return games (38%).
US Open 2020: Medvedev & Thiem By The Numbers
|Service Games Won||65/68 (96%)||59/67 (88%)|
|Break Points Converted||25/48 (52%)||28/62 (45%)|
|Break Points Saved||6/9 (67%)||25/33 (76%)|
|First-Serve Points Won||83%||79%|
|Second-Serve Points Won||62%||54%|
|Return Games Won||25/66 (38%)||28/65 (43%)|
But the 24-year-old knows how forceful Thiem can be in return games and baseline exchanges. He was overwhelmed by the Austrian in the 2019 Barcelona final, winning just five points in the second set and only one of the last 13 games. Although the fast hard courts of New York are more favourable to Medvedev's game, he knows it will be a long night if he’s not at this best.
“Dominic is a tough opponent to play… I got to feel it last year in the final of Barcelona,” Medvedev said. “On hard courts, I think it’s a little bit easier. When I say 'easier', he just made the final of the Australian Open. For me, it will be easier to play him on hard courts than clay courts.
“He tries to [run] around with a forehand and just go for it. I think there is not much you can do than just try to face it and see what you can do with it.”
Medvedev will look to get on top of rallies early, using his flat groundstrokes to keep the ball low and prevent Thiem from hitting in his preferred strike zone. The third seed has also shown an increased willingness to finish points at net. Keeping points short when possible will force Thiem out of lengthy rallies he thrives on and preserve energy for what is sure to be a grueling match.