Roland Garros 2019: Dominic Thiem vs Karen Khachanov, preview and prediction
Karen Khachanov will aim to halt Dominic Thiem's bid of reaching a fourth successive French Open semifinal when they meet in the quarterfinal on Thursday afternoon.
Russia's Khachanov is back to his happy hunting city of Paris. The 23-year-old sensationally defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the Rolex Paris Masters at the back end of last year to claim his maiden Masters 1000 title. Now he is on a 10-match winning streak in the city, including his four victories at Roland Garros. This will be his first quarterfinal at a Grand Slam.
Khachanov endured a tumultuous few months following that success in Paris Bercy in 2018. He suffered first round defeats in 8 of the 10 tournaments he participated in between January and the start of May. However, things are now looking rosy for the big-hitting Russian after a fantastic run of form at Roland Garros. His terrific fourth round victory over Juan Martin del Potro was further evidence that he could have a fruitful second half of 2019.
Thiem knows all to well how lethal Khachanov can be, especially when his confidence has sky-rocketed. Thiem lost to the Russian in their only meeting on tour, at last year's semifinal encounter in Bercy. That straight sets defeat will give the Austrian plenty of reasons to be wary of the barrage of aggressive hitting he will likely need to counter-punch.
The World No. 4 is vastly the more accomplished and experienced player of the two. Thiem is aiming to reach his fourth consecutive semifinal at the French Open after finishing runner-up in 2018.
The Austrian had a rough time in his opening three rounds where he struggled for rhythm. He came through in four sets in each of his matches against Tommy Paul, Alexander Bublik and Pablo Cuevas. However, he produced his best performance of the week when he tore Gael Monfils apart in the fourth round to win in straight sets.
Will the Austrian enforcer continue his excellent form on Parisian dirt, or will Khachanov have other ideas?
Thiem is a clear favorite here, and rightly so. He has been the second best player on clay in the past two seasons, reaching two successive semifinals and a final at Roland Garros in the last three years. He can generate great power off both wings and his variety of shots gives him an edge over the inconsistent Russian.
Khachanov is in the tournament of his life and has nothing to lose, but he will be hard-pressed to stay with Thiem over five sets.
Prediction: Dominic Thiem to win in four sets.