French Open 2019, Quarter-final: Dominic Thiem vs Karen Khachanov, Preview and Prediction
Dominic Thiem, the Prince of Clay and heir-apparent to Rafael Nadal's throne on the red dirt, has stormed into his 4th consecutive quarter-final at Roland Garros on the back of an impressive 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Gael Monfils.
A victory at Roland Garros would be the icing on the cake for the 25-year old Austrian, who has won two titles so far in 2019. He eclipsed Roger Federer in the Indian Wells final to lift his first-ever Masters 1000 trophy and also defeated Rafael Nadal on clay en route his title win at Barcelona.
Being a semi-finalist in 2016 and 2017 as well as a runner-up last year at Roland Garros, Thiem would hope to go one better and finally lift the elusive French Open title.
In the case of Thiem’s opponent, the young Russian Karen Khachanov, perhaps the biggest day of his short career awaits him as he sets his sights on his first ever quarter-final appearance at the Grand Slam level.
Following an impressive end to the 2018 season where he defeated Novak Djokovic to win the Paris Masters, Khachanov was tipped to be one of the players to watch out for on clay this year.
However, in the lead up to Roland Garros, having failed to qualify for a single quarter-final at any of the tournaments, the 23-year-old Russian was well and truly written off.
However, Khachanov has shown tremendous character and skill to make it this far at Roland Garros. His impressive four-set win over Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro in their Round of 16 clash would certainly serve as a morale-booster as far the talented Russian is concerned.
The 4th-ranked Thiem and 11th-ranked Khachanov have faced each other just once before and in their only battle, the Russian got better of the Austrian in straight-sets in the semi-finals at last year’s Paris Masters.
In tennis, just as in cricket, the surface plays an important role in determining the outcome of the match. If the upcoming contest was played on a hard court, it would have made Khachanov the favourite.
However, since the match is going to be contested on clay, Thiem, with all his variety, skill and experience on the surface starts as an overwhelming favourite and it would take an extraordinary effort from the Russian to pull off the upset.
For Thiem, who is in top form and good shape heading into his quarter-final battle, the Russian should serve as just another hurdle to be surmounted en route to French Open glory.
Prediction: Dominic Thiem to win in four sets.