The matchup between Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem will be an all-important one in Group Pete Sampras as the two will be looking to kickoff their World Tour Finals campaign with a victory. The Bulgarian has been tabbed by many as the second favorite to get out of the group stage, but the Austrian will be trying to right his dreadful hard court form.
With the winner of this match likely facing the winner of the other round-robin match between Rafael Nadal and David Goffin, it is important to get that all-important first win.
The world number four Austrian leads this head-to-head with Dimitrov 2-1. He won their first meeting in Acapulco last year in straight sets. The Bulgarian won their meeting in Brisbane this year in three sets in the quarterfinals, but on the clay, Thiem bested Dimitrov in Madrid which included an 11-9 final set tiebreak.
Thiem's Recent Form
In his career, Thiem's a sub-500 hard court player, but last year in London, he captured his first victory in London over Gael Monfils and even took a set off Novak Djokovic. Thiem's loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round where he was up two sets to love against the flu-ridden Argentine, is something he has not recovered from since then.
He suffered opening match losses in Chengdu, Tokyo, and Shanghai and only won one match in Vienna, his home tournament, and then in Paris. It has not been the best lately for Thiem, but he has shown the ability here before to win matches.
Dimitrov's Recent Form
The Bulgarian has been in better form than Thiem lately. He made the semifinals in Beijing, losing to Nadal and then lost to him once again in the Shanghai Masters quarterfinals. After the Asian Swing, he made the final in Stockholm but exited to John Isner in his second match in Paris.
This is going to be a battle of two guys who hit through the ball on the quick court. Dimitrov is the favorite coming into the match because of his form and more consistent shots. However, the world number four is no pushover despite the lack of results going his way lately.
Even if Thiem is struggling and still dealing with the inner demons of that US Open match, he will make this a long, drawn-out match because of his ability to track down balls and keep shots in the middle of the court at most times. It will be a fantastic match to watch and likely could be the best match of the first set of round-robin matches.
Prediction: Dimitrov in three sets