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On Wednesday, world No. 8 Dominic Thiem faces a tough challenge against fast-rising teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas in the round of 32 at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
After a remarkable clay-court season, Thiem labored through the grass-court season and has continued to play some uninspiring tennis since. The Austrian retired in his first match at Wimbledon, and he suffered a third-round exit at the German Open two weeks ago. He then was the home favorite at the Austrian Open last week, but he ended up getting upset by Martin Klizan in his first match.
Talent is not an issue for Thiem, who is one of the best young players in the world. But he could be dealing with an undisclosed injury right now. It was his back that caused him to retire at Wimbledon, so perhaps that is giving him some trouble still. Either that or the 24-year-old could be dealing with some late-summer fatigue.
Regardless, now is the time for the Austrian to snap out of it. This is a Masters 1000 event, meaning there is a lot on the line for all the players involved. This is also an opportunity for Thiem to get some matches under his belt heading into the US Open, where he definitely has the opportunity to make a splash.
Things are much different for Thiem's opponent, though. Tsitsipas is playing some of the best tennis of his career in the past few months, as he made it all the way to the round of 16 at Wimbledon and then followed it up with a semifinal run in D.C. last week. The Greek also happened to have played extremely well during the clay-court season, when he actually beat Thiem in straight sets in Barcelona.
That win was the first of the 19-year-old's career against Thiem, who had won each of their previous two meetings. And the Austrian's wins are two that will carry some serious weight as we look ahead to this match, as both of those victories came on hard courts. Still, Tsitsipas will be the player that comes to the court with more confidence on Wednesday. He now has the benefit of knowing that he can beat the world No. 8, and he also knows that he is surging while Thiem is reeling.
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev headline the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Watch live coverage from four courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, August 6th at 11:00 A.M.