The draw of the 2020 Erste Bank Open in Vienna has been released, and the strength of the playing field has taken many by surprise. 12 of the top 20 ranked players are taking part in the tournament, including Novak Djokovic and defending champion Dominic Thiem.
The second seeded Austrian is one of the favorites for the title, but he has a tough opening match - against Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Speaking to krone.at, Dominic Thiem and his coach Nicolas Massu discussed the challenges of the draw while paying special attention to the difficulty of facing a player of the calibre of Nishikori in the very first round.
Nishikori is a tough draw: Dominic Thiem
While Dominic Thiem is the defending champion of the Erste Bank Open, Kei Nishikori also boasts of a good record at the tournament. The Japanese took part in the 2018 edition of the tournament and finished as the runner-up - even beating Dominic Thiem along the way, by a comfortable margin of 6-3, 6-1.
Having said that, Thiem and Nishikori couldn’t be in more contrasting form coming into this match. While the World No. 3 won his maiden Grand Slam at the US Open and then reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, Kei Nishikori has failed to get past the second round in any of the four tournaments he has played since the resumption of the tour.
Nevertheless, Thiem is not taking the Japanese lightly. The Austrian considers his first-round to be a tough one, but he is prepared for it given the quality of the draw overall.
"Nishikori is a tough draw, but of course that was to be expected,” Thiem said. “The draw is in a completely different league.”
Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu echoed similar thoughts. The Chilean believes Nishikori is a ‘real champion’, and he expressed hope that the Japanese doesn't play at his very best against Thiem.
“He's a real champion, of course, crazy player,” Massu said. “I hope, of course, that he is not in the shape he was two or three years ago.”
Massu added that a few more training sessions were in store for his ward Dominic Thiem ahead of the match against Kei Nishikori.
“But I'll make sure that I still have a few good preparatory training sessions and then I'll be fully there on Tuesday,” Massu continued.
Needless to say, both Dominic Thiem and Nicolas Massu are aware of the danger that the first round match carries. Kei Nishikori is one of the few players who boasts of a positive head-to-head record (3-2) against the Austrian, and he is always a threat on quick surfaces irrespective of his form.
With potential subsequent matches against the likes of Stan Wawrinka, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev and Felix Auger-Aliassime, Dominic Thiem has his task cut out. The Austrian would be hoping that he gets past Nishikori without much stress, or else he may end up spending too much energy for the tough matches ahead.Published 25 Oct 2020, 16:05 IST