One of the most intriguing fourth round clashes at the Australian Open this year pits 10th seed Gael Monfils, who has gone through the draw under the radar, against fifth seed Dominic Thiem, who is looking to reach the last eight in Melbourne for the first time in his career.
Thiem came into this tournament with many expecting him to do well, having ended 2019 so strongly, and has backed that up by reaching the second week at the tournament for just the third time. In contrast, not too much was expected from Monfils, though the Frenchman has safely seen his way into the fourth round, and will be eyeing up a second quarterfinal at Melbourne Park.
It is Thiem who has won all five previous meetings between the two, having won their only outdoor hard court meeting, and also their only Grand Slam meeting at the French Open in 2019. This match will take place on the Rod Laver Arena, and the winner will face top seed Rafael Nadal or 23rd seed Nick Kyrgios in the last eight.
So Far in Melbourne
Thiem has only ever reached one Grand Slam quarterfinal outside of the French Open, and has not had it too easy in his quest to reach that stage here. The Austrian started well with a simple win versus Adrian Mannarino, but then had to rally from two sets to one down to beat Australian wildcard Alex Bolt. Another tough match followed against 29th seed Taylor Fritz, though Thiem was able to prevail in four sets to secure a spot in the second week.
Perhaps surprisingly, things have been more straightforward for Monfils on his way to the second week. The Frenchman started with a very comfortable win over Yen-Hsun Lu in the first round, before prevailing over big-serving Ivo Karlovic in four sets. The Frenchman then ended the run of qualifier Ernests Gulbis in another straight sets win to set up this interesting fourth round clash.
Monfils may come into this encounter the fresher of the two, and will look to use his athleticism to try and control this match. The Frenchman will look to serve well and use his big groundstrokes to try and dictate play, though may have difficulty in doing so considering that Thiem is also a powerful striker of the ball. What may be most important for Monfils is consistency. In matches against top players in the past, Monfils has often made too many errors; can he manage his game on this occasion?
Much like his opponent in this match, Thiem will also look to use big groundstrokes, particularly his forehand, to dictate play. However, the Austrian will need to be patient when in rallies as Monfils will likely defend well and extend the rallies as much as possible. The fifth seed will look to attack on the Frenchman’s serve as much as possible, with Monfils sometimes prone to poor serving performances, though will have to be careful himself to not hand out too many cheap points himself.
This could well be one of the more entertaining matches of the day with both men, particularly Monfils, known for their impressive shot making. The Frenchman has done very well in Melbourne so far and certainly has a shot in this match, though the head-to-head and Thiem’s greater consistency suggests that he should have enough to reach the last eight.
Prediction: Dominic Thiem in Four Sets