“Better lucky than good” is a common saying in the world of competitive sports. It’s a phrase that may very well apply to the 2016 US Open for one of the high seeds. Dominic Thiem, a skilled player for sure but one that hasn’t been playing good for a little while, seems to have some luck going on when it comes to the men’s singles draw.
The French Open semifinalist, who has four ATP titles this season, has not been that effective on tour this summer. Thiem arguably played too compact of a schedule earlier this season, and perhaps the wear and tear associated with that took a small bite out of his game. In my opinion, he didn’t play his best in the opening round on Tuesday night at the US Open as he labored to a five-set victory. However, the luck appears to be on No. 8 seed’s side: his reward for winning is a draw that could be negotiated to the fourth round with relative ease compared to the draws that many other players have.
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Next up for the Austrian, in what looks to be a Thursday match, is just Ricardas Berankis. The Lithuanian made Grand Slam headlines earlier this season when he fell to Marcus Willis at Wimbledon, a player that was ranked outside of the Top 700. Thiem, if no injuries turn up from the first-round five setter, should pick off Berankis in the second round. If the Austrian does so in straight sets, then it might help rejuvenate him and set him up nicely to make the 2nd week. After all, the third round doesn’t actually look all that much tougher.
Janko Tipsarevic and Pablo Carreno Busta are in Thiem’s microsection now (next two rounds). Tipsy has plenty of Grand Slam experience to draw upon, but where his game is at right now certainly is not clear for the World No. 250. Carreno Busta, now in his 13th Grand Slam, has no significant experience to draw upon to help him get into week two. As it looks, Thiem appears to be one of the most likely players to get into the round of sixteen at this year’s final Grand Slam. In fact, if he doesn’t take advantage of what is in front of him then it could serve to discredit his hard-court abilities.
The later rounds will likely put Thiem to a stronger test. Juan Martin del Potro and David Ferrer are both in the Austrian’s path to the quarterfinals. But JMD is a player that I feel will have trouble in lengthy Grand Slam matches as opposed to the shorter ones, like the ones in Rio. Ferrer has been slumping for a while now, a dip in form that probably reflects his age. A spot in the quarters is there for the taking for Thiem and, since he’s in Stan Wawrinka‘s quarter, the semifinals certainly aren’t out of reach either.
Thiem was playing his best tennis between January and June this season. He’ll need to rediscover that to have any kind of shot at the final in Flushing Meadows. However, a subpar Thiem is still in the mix for the semifinals in a section of the draw that lacks a major contender like Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, or Marin Cilic.