13th-seeded Dominic Thiem will face 12th-seeded David Goffin for a spot in the French Open semifinals, and place inside the elusive Top 10.
The No. 15 from Austria overcame Marcel Granollers in four sets, 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-4 while Goffin toppled the always unpredictable Ernest Gulbis in four as well.
It will be a tough match between the duo, who are only ranked two spots apart. I see Thiem, who seems unstoppable on an eight-match win streak to conquer Goffin for his first career Grand Slam semifinal appearance.
The two will meet for the seventh time on Thursday (if the fickle weather permits) for the seventh time. The world No. 13 from Belgium leads the head-to-head 4-2, with one of Thiem’s wins over Goffin coming due to retirement in the first set. Thiem has only truly defeated Goffin in the final of Gstaad in 2015, which was on clay.
The duo most recently met in 2016 at the Australian Open, where the 25-year-old Belgium defeated Thiem in four sets.
Thiem can win this Grand Slam rematch as long as he keeps his unforced errors at a reasonable total. In his Australian Open match against Goffin, the Austrian whacked a whopping 61 unforced errors, which was almost 20 more than his opponent. Coincidentally, Thiem only lost the match by 14 points (128 points won comparied to Goffin’s 142). Thiem’s steep amount of unforced errors solely cost him the match, as he served better with 17 aces and only six doubles faults compared to Goffin’s meek six aces and eight double faults.
The 22-year-old year old also needs to capitalize on break point opportunities, which was another area Thiem severely lacked in at the Australian Open. Thiem failed to covert a staggering nine out of 13 break point chances, which made all the difference in the last two sets.
Since the French Open is played on clay (duh) I expect Thiem to play astronomically better than he did at the Australian. Going into the maiden Grand Slam of 2016, Thiem had retired from his match in Sydney. Currently, the Austrian has won eight matches in a row, four of those contributing to his sixth career title in Nice.
Also, Thiem is an impressive 20-5 on clay, which is nearly on par with the King of Clay Rafael Nadal’s 19-4 clay court record. Goffin’s clay court record pales in comparison, as he’s only 8-4.
While Thiem European clay court swing consisted of two final appearances at Munich and Nice and a quarterfinal showing in Rome (where he beat Roger Federer in straight sets), Goffin has evidently struggled in Europe.
The Belgium lost three matches to players ranked considerably lower, two of them being Young Guns — Alexander Zverev and Lucas Pouille — in early round matches. He also suffered an embarrassing straight set defeat to then No. 67 Granollers.
Considering these statistics, it’s clear that Thiem is at an advantage on clay. His high confidence as a result of terrific results on clay and his comfortableness on the tricky red dirt will help him topple Goffin for a berth into the semifinals and the Top 10 for the first time in Thiem’s career.