The world no. 5 & 7 will battle it out for a place in the men’s singles final at the 2020 Australian Open. 26 y/o Dominic Thiem & 22 y/o Alexander Zverev both have a chance to reach their first final at Melbourne Park, where they will meet the scarily in-form Novak Djokovic on Sunday. These 2 men, formerly of the ‘Nextgen’, are both now 2 wins away from a maiden Grand Slam. With strong showings so far, the breakthroughs both men have achieved already in Australia will surely set them up for career best seasons in 2020. Proceedings kick off on Rod Laver arena tonight from 6:30pm AEST.
If you’re in Australia, you can catch all the action on Channel 9, or on your mobile device with the 9NOW App. If you’re overseas you can catch the action on the Sky Go App or on your TV with Eurosport.
Alexander ‘Sascha’ Zverev has been around the ATP tour for many years. As a teenager, he constantly travelled with ATP player & big brother, Mischa, to tournaments across the globe. Immensely talented & gifted, the powerful german has long been touted as a potential future no. 1. Despite 11 career ATP titles, Sascha failed to deliver on the big stage over 5 sets in grand slams, and his poor showings at majors often belied his top 10 singles ranking. Coming into this tournament, I thought a similar pattern might continue. A mere couple of weeks ago, Zverev lost 3 matches in a row at the ATP Cup, had a courtside argument in which he made his father, Alexander Sr, cry, and could not hit a second serve to save himself. Now he lines up in his first ever semi-final. How? He’s improved every part of his game. Beating Cecchinato, Gerasimov, Verdasco, Rublev and Wawrinka is a big deal. Even more impressive? He has won 15/16 sets so far, and is breaking his opponents serve almost 30% of the time. Massive. He’s also a lot calmer on court, cutting down his outbursts and showing precision combined with his immense power.
Dominic ‘Domi’ Thiem has been making a run at capturing his maiden grand slam for a couple of years now. With 2 Roland Garros runner-up trophies to show, Thiem has more experience to draw upon than Zverev when it comes to the business end of a grand slam. The Austrian has unfortunately run into Nadal both times, and also lost a 5 set epic to Rafa in his lone quarter-final appearance at the US Open in 2018. That means there is even more significance when you take into account his quarter final victory over Nadal a few days ago. Domi well and truly hit Rafa off the court, taking time and space away from the Spaniard whenever he could. His offensive supremacy was incredible to watch, and Thiem has now beaten Federer, Djokovic and Nadal on hard court in the past year. He also beat Mannarino, Bolt, Fritz & Monfils. Remarkably, it was Aussie Alex Bolt who pushed Thiem the furthest, taking him to 5 sets in the 2nd round.
The fact that there is a men’s singles semi-final with this much anticipation and interest involving players not named Djokovic, Nadal or Federer, is refreshing to see. It bodes well for the game of tennis, and the form of these 2 men warrant it. When it comes to Grand Slam men’s tennis these days, experience counts. Despite Sascha’s serve improving drastically over the past 2 weeks, the massive occasion and the sheer ferocity of the Thiem groundstroke arsenal will be too much for him to handle. Under pressure, I think Domi will be too strong and will have the Grand Slam experience to draw upon when he needs it. After correctly predicting Djokovic 3-0 over Federer yesterday, I’ll take Thiem 3-1.
Prediction: Thiem 3-1