Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz are not there, but Dominic Thiem steps in


After many withdrawals, Dominic Thiem received the main draw wild card for the next week’s Monte Carlo Masters. Thiem will compete in Monte Carlo for the first time since 2019. He faces Richard Gasquet in the first round and hopes for another good run after moving into the last eight at this week’s ATP 250 event in Estoril. Interestingly, Monte Carlo is Thiem’s worst ATP tournament on clay, winning only six matches and reaching one quarter-final in 2018. Dominic did not make a good start to the current season, winning one out of nine encounters and changing that in Estoril for at least some momentum. Six years ago, Thiem took down Novak Djokovic 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 29 minutes in the Monte Carlo third round. Dominic lost serve only once. However, he had to battle for every point against Novak, who played at a high level while his body could endure the efforts. The Serb made an impressive return in the opening set, but it was not enough to emerge as a winner.

Dominic Thiem earned the Monte Carlo Masters wild card.

He lost serve twice in sets two and three to hit the exit door. It was the second win for Thiem in a row against Djokovic after Roland Garros 2017, earning it after hitting 36 winners and 33 unforced errors. Dominic left Novak on a negative 20-40 ratio as a former champion struggled to find proper shots from his backhand. Djokovic had a slight advantage in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, while Thiem forged the lead in the mid-range and most extended exchanges. The Austrian hit with more depth and energy when the match reached the critical phase to emerge at the top. Dominic faced Rafael Nadal in his only Monte Carlo quarter-final and suffered a 6-0, 6-2 loss in 68 minutes! Tired, slow and unsettled, Thiem served at 41% and turned his service games into a nightmare. Dominic lost almost 60% of the points and faced 12 break chances to feel the constant pressure. Nadal sailed through his service games. He dropped six points behind the initial shot and allowed Thiem to reach just one deuce and no break chances.

Nadal was in his full throttle from the baseline, dictating the pace with in-depth and accurate groundstrokes that dismantled Thiem completely, as the Austrian hit around 40 errors. Rafa’s groundstrokes worked like a charm, and he poured just ten mistakes. The Spaniard stood as the dominant figure in the shortest and the longer rallies, where Thiem had nothing to confront and make the match a bit more interesting. Rafa was never out of his comfort zone outside eight forced errors, playing almost an error-free game and keeping a high level throughout the match. As we already said, the defending champion served at 71% and was untroubled on the first and second serve. He maintained the pressure on the other side of the net and hit with more risk in the return games to gain the advantage. Nadal will not compete in Monte Carlo, and Thiem will try to add much-needed wins to his tally after a slow start to the season.

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