WATCH—Stories of the Open Era - Tennis Academies:
The past four weeks have been quite noteworthy for Dominic Thiem: The Austrian reached the US Open quarterfinals for the first time, went home to lead his country to a Davis Cup victory over Australia and has now followed that up with a title at the St. Petersburg Open in Russia.
That breaks down to a 10-1 record in a month-long span, with success under three different playing conditions across two continents, and is a continuation of what’s been a career year for the world No. 7.
In the St. Petersburg final, Thiem faced Martin Klizan, a player whom he’d never defeated before in main-draw action. In fact, the Slovak had beaten Thiem twice in front of his Austrian compatriots, triumphing at the ATP stop in Kitzbuhel in 2012 and there again this year.
Klizan had taken out two of the top-eight seeds on his way to the final, while Thiem just managed to squeak out a third-set tiebreak victory against Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals. Once in the final, though, any notion of Thiem having problems on the day with Klizan was quickly dashed as he took the championship match 6-3, 6-1.
St. Petersburg was his third title of the season and 11th overall. It also marks the first time he captured an event under a roof, giving him titles under all playing conditions.
Thiem’s 2018 campaign has been stellar so far. As he’s demonstrated the past several seasons, the clay courts have been a comfort zone and during the spring, he defeated Rafael Nadal on the dirt—which traditionally has been a near-impossible task. The Spaniard turned the tables on him at the French Open when they met in the final, Thiem’s first at the Grand Slam level.
There were some rough patches after Roland Garros, where he struggled on the grass leading up to Wimbledon and the hard courts prior to the US Open. In New York, he was pushed to the brink by American Steve Johnson in the second round, surviving that to beat another American, Taylor Fritz, in the third and following up with a win over Kevin Anderson, last year’s finalist, in the round of 16. Nadal stopped his run in what was arguably the match of the tournament as the world No. 1 won in a fifth-set tiebreaker.
Renowned for his relentless approach to the ATP tour’s calendar, Thiem took on Davis Cup duties right afterward, then moved on to the Russia tournament.
He won’t be competing this week, but he’s shown that his aggressive ways when it comes to the schedule works best for him. In the latest rankings, he’s three spots off his career high of No. 4. Thiem has also kept himself within striking distance of qualifying for the ATP Finals for the third straight year.
While he has yet to get past the round-robin stage in two prior appearances against the game’s elite, Thiem appears to be ready for the next step as he’s shown with his recent run of form at any location and on any surface.