2016 ATP World Tour Finals player profile: Dominic Thiem

With a brilliant first half of the season where he won four titles and made his debut in the Top 10, Dominic Thiem comes into his first ATP World Tour Finals.

2016 ATP World Tour Finals player profile: Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem will make his debut at the ATP World Tour Finals. Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images Europe)

Dominic Thiem began the year 20th in the world rankings, but in the course of the following months, the Austrian would break into the top 10 to eventually qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals. The first half of the season was an unforgettable one for Thiem who won four titles, on different surfaces. However, a busy schedule forced Thiem to struggle for the rest of the season as he has been struggling with injuries and early losses. In the last tournament of the year, can Thiem forget the last months and reprise the success he had earlier this year?

Notable results to date

Dominic Thiem began his season with a semifinal at Brisbane where he fell to Roger Federer, however, this would only mark the start of a brilliant first half. After a disappointing third round loss at the Australian Open, Thiem found comfort on the clay at Buenos Aires where he not only reached his first final of the year, but he did it after defeating the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. In the final, Thiem had to overcome losing the second set to Nicolas Almagro to win his fourth title.

After another great run in Rio, Thiem moved to the hard courts. The Mexican Open in Acapulco was his first stop. There he defeated the 2014 champion, Grigor Dimitrov and then Sam Querrey in the semifinal. Another young promise awaited in the final, Bernard Tomic. The Austrian took the first set in a dramatic tiebreak, but the Australian bounced back and forced a third set where Thiem proved to be the strongest player. Just two weeks after winning his first title of 2016, he won his second tournament and first title on a hard court in Acapulco.

Dominic Thiem posing with the trophy after winning his second tournament of the year in Acapulco. Photo: Getty Images
Dominic Thiem posing with the trophy after winning his second tournament of the year in Acapulco. Photo: Getty Images

He had two straight fourth round loss in Miami and Indian Wells. A third final would come on clay at Munich where he had an intense battle against Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German took the title, but a third final inspired Thiem for the rest of the clay season. After reaching the quarterfinals in Rome, Thiem moved to Nice where he reached his fourth final of the year. Just like in Acapulco, he had to play against another young player, Alexander Zverev. Despite losing the second set, Dominic Thiem had no problem to take grab the third set and the title.

Coming into the French Open, the Austrian was full of confidence out of his seven titles, six had been on clay. There, he defeated three Spanish players, Alexander Zverev and David Goffin in order to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal. The then world number one, Novak Djokovic dominated throughout the match and earned the win. However, having reached the semifinal, Dominic Thiem made his debut inside the Top 10 of ATP Rankings as world No. 7.

Many wondered if Thiem would be able to carry this form during the grass season and the Austrian didn’t waste any time to prove he would. At the Mercedes Cup on Stuttgart, he went on to defeat Roger Federer in an amazing three set semifinal match. Later, Thiem would avenge his loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber a few weeks prior to crown himself with his fourth title of the season. This title meant that Thiem now had won a tournament on every surface.

Dominic Thiem after winning his first grass title at the Mercedes Cup. Photo: Deniz Calagan/Bongarts
Dominic Thiem after winning his first grass title at the Mercedes Cup. Photo: Deniz Calagan/Bongarts

A busy schedule took its toll, as Thiem played almost every week in the first half of the season. He had a very disappointing second round loss at Wimbledon. Then two straight losses in his opening match and a withdrawal due injury from Los Cabos gave signs that the rest of the season didn’t look as bright. In the US Open, he reached the fourth round but an inspired Juan Martin del Potro took the first set before the Austrian retired in the second.

Things began to look brighter when he made it to the final of the Moselle Open, but there he couldn’t conquer his fifth title of the year as he went on to lose to Lucas Pouille. The Asian tour wasn’t any better, he was barely able to win a single match. His last tournament was in Paris where he got another disappointing loss against Jack Sock in the second round.

The Group

Perhaps, Thiem is not in the group of death, but looking at the last months he could be in his own tough group. His first matchup will happen against Novak Djokovic, they have met in three encounters before and the Serbian has won all of them so far. However, just like Thiem the rest of the season hasn’t been the best for the former world number one. Their last meeting was in the semifinals of the French Open.

Dominic Thiem shakes hands after losing to Novak Djokovic at the Miami Open. Photo: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images
Dominic Thiem shakes hands after losing to Novak Djokovic at the Miami Open. Photo: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Milos Raonic also had a great season, reaching his first Grand Slam final. Dominic Thiem has played only one time against the Canadian. It happened this year at Cincinnati where Raonic won in straight sets.

Gael Monfils is the last member of the group and against him, Dominic Thiem has a positive record having won their only encounter last year in Umag.

Chances of progression

Dominic Thiem must give everything if he wants to create a chance in this tournament. It’s been clear that a heavy schedule has been an important issue in the last months. He needs to emulate the energy he had a the start of the year. Also, Thiem along Monfils are the only players without prior experience in the World Tour Finals which could contribute to his nerves.

Thiem could take advantage of the deficient form of the rest of the players in his group, however, his own results in the past months make his chances very slim. If he wants to make it to the semifinal he will have to take every chance against Monfils and Raonic.

Dominic Thiem practices prior his first match in the ATP World Tour Finals. Photo: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images Sport
Dominic Thiem practices prior his first match in the ATP World Tour Finals. Photo: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images Sport

If he reaches the semifinal he will have a very tough opponent as he could get the new world number one, Andy Murray. Against the Brit he has a losing record having lost their two encounters. In the McEnroe team, there’s also tough players such as Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, and Marin Cilic. His best record is against the Croatian, having won their only meeting earlier this year at Brisbane. He also had a win against Stan Wawrinka in 2014.

There’s no doubt that Thiem doesn’t come as a favorite in his group, but given the circumstances of the other players he could give the surprise and reach the semifinals. He needs to erase the last weeks and gain the confidence he had in the first half of the year. Thiem is also the youngest players and the one with less experience but in the last years he has proved he has everything to become a top player.