In Group Pete Sampras, the Monday afternoon clash between Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem could go a long way to deciding who advances alongside Rafael Nadal. Fitness permitting, the Spaniard is expected to cruise through his group but Thiem, Dimitrov and David Goffin will all feel they have a good chance of joining him in the semi finals in London.
A career best year saw Dimitrov finish 5th in the ATP World Tour rankings, an achievement he is clearly very happy about. “I’m pretty pleased to be out here. For sure it’s a dream come true for me. In the past I’ve missed qualifying by one spot. It’s always been a goal of mine to come out here and perform. The arena is pretty special and they take such good care of you here. It’s a great reward. I’m so happy and super humbled.” he said pre-tournament.
His Cincinnati Masters title was key to making it this far although his performances at the slams this year turned out to be a disappointment following an Australian Open semi final run that showcased his clear potential. He lost early in New York following Cincinnati before twice succumbing to Nadal in China. Losses in the Stockholm final to Juan Martin Del Potro and John Isner early in Paris are nothing to be too worried about but given how Paris turned out, it will be a missed opportunity for the Bulgarian.
“I’ve played a few times against Dominic. He’s one of the best players. To be here, you’ve obviously done something right. I’m looking forward to the match. It’s cool to be here at the end of the year and play your last matches against the top players. I already had my first hit on the court and I think it’s going to be a great match.” Dimitrov said of his opponent, ranked 4th in the world. The pair are 1-1 against each other this year with Dimitrov winning on hard court and Thiem winning on clay, both expected given their preferred surfaces.
Thiem has losses to Pierre Hugues Herbert, Fernando Verdasco and Richard Gasquet indoors this year and has generally not done too well on the surface. While the latter two are experienced veterans, he should still be expecting to beat them as one of the top 5 ranked players in the world. “I think the results seemed maybe worse than they actually were, especially in the American summer; I had so many chances to make it better,” said Thiem of his season. “Of course, the loss in the US Open (From 2-0 up vs Del Potro) was painful and I think it took a while for me to get over it, but now I am definitely ready for London even though it’s going to be a very tough tournament for me.”
Prediction – Grigor Dimitrov in 3 sets