The first ATP World Tour 500-level clay court tournament of the year takes place in Rio de Janeiro this week, and among its top seeds is one of the most dangerous clay courters on the tour - arguably the most dangerous clay courter on the tour apart from a certain 10-time French Open champion.
That would be Dominic Thiem, who’s been absolutely crushing it on clay the last few years.
Most notably, his two best Grand Slam results both came at Roland Garros the last two years, with back-to-back semifinal finishes in 2016 (falling to Novak Djokovic) and 2017 (falling to Rafael Nadal).
But his incredible clay court results don’t stop there by any means. In 2017 he put together a 24-5 record on the surface, which not only includes the aforementioned run in Paris, but also the two best Masters 1000 results of his career - reaching the final of Madrid and the semifinals in Rome.
And while Nadal went 24-1 on clay in 2017, that one loss was actually at the hands of Thiem, who outdid the Spaniard in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, in the quarterfinals of Rome.
With two wins in Davis Cup two weeks ago and four wins en route to the ATP World Tour 250-level title in Buenos Aires last week, Thiem is already off to a 6-0 start on clay this year, and he’s hoping to keep that momentum going this week at the Rio Open, where he’s the defending champion.
On Monday, the World No.6 caught up with the ATP World Tour about his title run here a year ago.
“I came in very late - I was playing Rotterdam the week before - so I started here Tuesday. I just came in from Europe Monday, I think, so it was not the best preparation,” he recalled. “But I increased my level from match to match, so it was at the end an amazing week… I have many good memories.”
In case you want more reasons Thiem is one to watch on clay, here are a few: seven of his nine career ATP World Tour titles have come on clay; six of his seven career wins over Top 5 players have come on clay; and he’s one of only two players ever to have wins over all of the Big Four - Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray - on clay (the other player being Stan Wawrinka).
You can watch live action from Rio all week on Tennis Channel - check the listings here!
This Week on Tennis Channel Plus 2/19
ATP Rio (Feb. 19-22)
- Watch all of The Rio Open with extended coverage featuring three additional courts only available on Tennis Channel Plus
- The Rio Open begins on Tennis Channel Plus on February 19 at 2:30 p.m. ET with extended court coverage
ATP Marseille (Feb. 20-25)
-Don’t miss Stan Wawrinka, Davis Goffin and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga compete at The Open 13 live on Tennis Channel Plus beginning February 20 at 1 p.m. ET
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