While Thursday afternoon sees a dead rubber clash between Novak Djokovic and alternate David Goffin, the evening sees an intriguing winner takes all clash between Milos Raonic and Dominic Thiem. With both players on 1 win and 1 loss, it will be a straight fight for second place in the group after Djokovic locked up first place with his two victories over these two competitors.
Thiem has played two three-setters so far, beginning with a loss to Novak Djokovic before bouncing back from a disastrous second set to see of Gael Monfils in three sets, 6-3 1-6 6-4. After being broken on all three occasions in the second set, Thiem didn’t face a single break point in the decider and would take the match with a break as Monfils served to stay in the match.
It seemed like Thiem’s late season performance dipping was partly due to overscheduling earlier in the season but the Austrian has defended doing so. “If I would have played less, I wouldn’t be here at the Finals. This was one of the reasons why I’m here, because I was playing a lot.” he said. Thiem was 4th in the race but had to scrap to make London in the end and only did so due to Rafael Nadal’s injury. He looks to have regained some confidence and avoiding going 0-3 can only serve the Austrian well in future years.
Raonic will be disappointed to not have least taken one set against Djokovic in his loss on Tuesday. He held a minibreak lead in the first set tiebreak and a set point in the second at 6-5 but failed to take advantage on both occasions, falling to a 7-6 7-6 loss. Raonic is confident coming into this all important clash. “This is one of my best surfaces. I don’t know if indoor hard courts is necessarily his. So hopefully I can take time away from him and play on my terms and have him react to the things I put forward and try to push him around.” he said.
The Canadian has to be favoured to pick up the second qualifying place given his performances so far and erasing doubt when it came to his fitness. It looks like his withdrawal from Paris was precautionary rather than anything to be massively concerned about. Raonic and Thiem have met just once with the world No.4 winning that clash in Cincinnati this year, 6-3 6-4.
Prediction: Milos Raonic in straight sets