Vienna Open 2019, Round of 16: Dominic Thiem vs Fernando Verdasco, preview and prediction
Dominic Thiem, the top seed at the Vienna Open, recorded a straight-sets yet thrilling victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his opening match at the tournament. The Austrian, buoyed by the home support he received, got the better of the veteran Frenchman 6-4, 7-6(7-2) and will now meet another veteran, Fernando Verdasco, in the Round of 16 on Thursday.
While Thiem won in straight sets, the 35-year-old Spaniard produced a come-from-behind victory as he won 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 against Nikoloz Basilashvili in his Round of 32 clash.
Verdasco has dominated Thiem so far on the tour so far; the latter is yet to record a win against the former as the Spaniard leads their head-to-head record 4-0. In their only contest on hardcourts, a round of 16 contest at the 2017 Paris Masters, Verdasco cruised to a straight sets victory over Thiem.
Despite a strong fight from Tsonga, Thiem was able to maintain his form to avoid going to a third set. The Austrian was in the zone throughout the course of the match and would hope to carry on his momentum into the next round as well, against the unpredictable Spaniard.
For the 35-year-old southpaw, 2019 has so far been quite underwhelming as he has crumbled to numerous first and second round exits. With Thiem as his next opponent, Verdasco would be well aware of the challenge that lies ahead of him.
The Spaniard would need to be at his absolute best if he fancies taking down the No. 1 seed in their upcoming encounter. But he can draw huge inspiration from his most recent performance against Thiem - a stunning win three-set over the Austrian at the Rome Masters earlier this year.
If Verdasco can fire his bullet-like lefty forehand into Thiem’s one-handed backhand, it could cause plenty of trouble for the Austrian. Having said that, Verdasco often suffers a sudden let-down in intensity, and he can't afford that if he wishes to continue his unbeaten streak against the 26-year-old.
On the other hand, having never beaten Verdasco yet would act as motivation for Thiem as he hopes to remain on course in his journey towards his first ever Vienna Open title.
A relentless ball-basher, Verdasco would have nothing to lose when he faces Thiem. And that sense of freedom would make the Spaniard a dangerous prospect to deal with.
Can Verdasco, with his experience and unpredictability, continue his dominance over the title favourite Thiem, or will the Austrian bring his best and record his first ever win over the veteran Spaniard?
If Verdasco can indeed manage to match Thiem’s intensity, we will have an interesting match on our hands in the second round of the Vienna Open.
Prediction: Dominic Thiem to win in straight sets.