The first singles match of the 2018 ATP World Tour finals will take place between Kevin Anderson and Dominic Thiem on Sunday afternoon. They will be hoping to pick up a decisive win in Group Lleyton Hewitt, one that could only need another win against Kei Nishikori to confirm a place in the semi finals. It will be Anderson’s first time playing in London, making the event with a career year that included a few weeks in the top 5.
“It means a lot and it’s a goal of mine for pretty long, I’ve been close a couple of times. It’s something that’s very important to me. It’s such a great event with the top eight players in the world. I’ve been watching this tournament since I was a little kid.” said Anderson. Now in his early 30s, all that had work has paid off greatly with the past two years being far beyond what many would have expected from the South African. The highlight will have been his two slam finals – an extraordinary feat even if he was overwhelmed in the final on both occasions.
With an admirable 3-4 record against the top 5 this year, Thiem has showed his capabilities when it comes to hanging with the elite in the game. He once again defeated Nadal on clay while also sealing wins over Zverev and Anderson in that time-frame. He does have a win over now No.1 Novak Djokovic too although the Serbian was ranked outside the top 5 as he continued his comeback to the top. Previously finding it difficult on hard court on occasion, he has improved considerably and in the past month has a St Petersburg title and Paris semi final to his name.
The Austrian held a surprising 0-6 record against Anderson coming into the year but has begun to reverse that with two wins in 2018. Both of them were in fairly comprehensive style, beating him in straight sets in Madrid and at the US Open. He may well make it three wins in a row against his opponent, with the court set up unlikely to be fast enough to have favour a big server at all.
Prediction – Dominic Thiem in three sets.