THE third round of men’s singles matches completes at the 2020 Australian Open on Saturday and Sean Calvert is back to preview the action from Melbourne Park on day six.
We’re set for a warm day in Melbourne on Saturday, with temperatures reaching about 25C in the shade and not much wind is forecast, so it looks a good day for tennis.
Taylor Fritz vs Dominic Thiem
I’m still not convinced about Thiem in these Australian conditions and I’m happy to side with Fritz in some way in this fourth career clash between this pair.
Although conditions seem to be generally slower here when the balls start to fluff up the bounce is quite low and that won’t suit the heavy top spin game of Thiem, who of course excels on clay and slow, high-bouncing surfaces like Indian Wells.
In any case, the Austrian is yet to find Fritz a comfortable opponent to deal with, having lost to him in Laver Cup in September when Fritz stepped off the bench to beat Thiem in a deciding tie break.
Prior to that Thiem beat Fritz 3-1 at the 2017 and 2018 US Open as a heavy favourite each time (1.273 and 1.207) back when Fritz was ranked 74th and 108th in the world.
The stats of their career series show that in those three prior matches, Fritz has held serve 85.4% of the time and Thiem 88.6% of the time, and it’s actually Fritz that has created the more break chances (0.59 per game compared to the 0.49 per game of Thiem).
Thiem has taken more of them (30% converted by Thiem compared to just 19.4% taken by Fritz) but if Fritz is a little more clinical with his opportunities this time he has a fair shot of turning things in his favour.
Service points won between them is virtually identical at 66% for each man and return points won is also the same at 34% each, so the only difference has been Thiem taking more of his chances when they arrive.
The Austrian’s improved hard court play towards the end of 2019 has probably made his shorter than he perhaps should be here, but much of his success came on slower, higher bouncing surfaces.
Fritz at the moment is one of those players that tend to produce their best stuff against the elite players, with the American having gone 5-7 win/loss against the players I have listed as ‘top-10 quality’ in the past year, winning three of his last four and holding serve 83% of the time.
In his seven-match career at the Australian Open he’s held serve 90% of the time and unless Fritz is fatigued after coming back from 0-2 down against Kevin Anderson in the last round this looks a tricky day in prospect for Thiem.
But points were short in that match and at 3h 21m it was one minute quicker than Thiem spent on court in his own five setter against Alex Bolt in the last round.
It’s a day match on a sunny day and the courts are likely to start playing a bit quicker now, so Fritz +4.5 games at 1.79 looks the wager here.
- 0.5 points win Fritz +4.5 games to beat Thiem (1.79, Unibet)