Sunday’s ATP Daily Hitter: Which Young Star Will Come Out on Top in Madrid?

Sunday’s ATP Daily Hitter: Which Young Star Will Come Out on Top in Madrid? article feature image

Friday’s hitter came through in emphatic fashion, although I will admit I kind of regret not pulling the trigger on the moneyline, outright (I had texted Stuckey about it). We were on Dominic Thiem with the games (+6 — or 6.5, if you could snag it) against Rafael Nadal, but we wouldn’t need a spread — my boy Domi won outright: 7-5, 6-3.

Nevertheless, great win for Thiem, who was able to come through his match Saturday morning as well (against big South African “Come on Kevin” Anderson), and set up a final clash against budding star (and rival) Sascha Zverev. Needless to say, CAN’T WAIT (Bart Scott voice).

Zverev beat Denis Shapovalov in his semifinal match, rather comprehensively, 6-4 6-1, and this one is priced as a coin toss — or “pick ‘em,” as the kids say. However, I see one side with clear value.

YTD: 46-42, +12.38 units

Dominic Thiem (-115) vs. Sascha Zverev (+105)

Where: Madrid, Spain
When: 12:30 p.m. EST
H2H: Thiem leads 4-1

Well, outside of a Rafa-Roger final, you can’t really ask for a more entertaining matchup than this, as two young, rising stars duke it out in a Masters 1000 final.

It’s pretty clear, at least in my opinion, that these two are the future of the sport — and I see them winning a lot of Grand Slams over the next few years. To this point, Zverev has had more success from a Masters perspective, winning two Masters 1000 titles last season in Rome and Montreal. Thiem, however, has had far more clay success, as a whole — as well as more success at Grand Slams, with semifinal appearances in the last two French Opens.

After backing up his win against Nadal with a sweat-free victory over Anderson — who plays a similar brand of tennis to Zverev — this title is Thiem’s to lose. Over the past two seasons, Thiem has been the clear-cut second-best clay-courter on the planet after Nadal, and I expect him to show his class tomorrow — on his preferred surface.

I’ve watched Thiem more than any player over the past few years, and when he hits his stride, he’s usually able to sustain a ridiculous level for weeks (even months) on end. And, after downing Nadal in the quarterfinals, I get the feeling Thiem is just now entering one of his “hot streaks.” Having never lost to Zverev on clay, I don’t see that changing here.

I expect Thiem’s shotmaking (surprise, surprise) to be the difference in this one. The Austrian is playing such ridiculously confident tennis right now — hitting all of his shots, from line to line — I don’t think Zverev, as impressive as he’s been, will be up to the task on the defensive end. While Zverev is a fantastic mover, especially for being almost 6-foot-7, he plays his best tennis when he’s able to set his feet and unload on his groundstrokes. With Thiem clubbing balls all over the court, forcing Zverev to run, I can’t see Zverev generating enough power on his strokes (from defensive positions) to hurt Thiem enough to win this match.

I expect Zverev to hold his own — and maybe even take a set — but don’t get me wrong, I expect Thiem to get across the finish line in this one. At a price of pick ‘em, I’m chomping at the bit here. Or “champing” at the bit?

Anyways, allez Domi.

THE PICK: Thiem -115

Photo: Dominic Thiem. Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports