Dominic Thiem vs Karen Khachanov Expert French Open Picks - 6/5/2019
Dominic Thiem vs Karen Khachanov
9am EST, 5th June 2019
Roland Garros (Paris, France)
Despite me having some doubts on Thiem's success in this tournament, he's been proving me wrong round after round, securing himself a spot in the quarterfinals. Watching these latest matches, I was trying to determine whether that was a product of his game, opponents not performing up to the required level or combination of both. I am leaning towards the later reason at the moment. He indeed played better vs Cuevas and Monfils, comparing to matches vs Paul and Bublik. But I also expected much more from those guys, who failed to push Thiem to his limits. Performance of Gael Monfils was especially disappointing, in front of his home crowd, at that stage of a Grand Slam tournament. He was supposed to defend at a high level and make Thiem play closer to the lines and force some more unforced errors from him. Instead, he was the one spraying UE left and right, often sending it too long even though he was not really under siege. Ended up with 33 errors which was too high of a number, when we consider that he was not really going for the winner all that much (had 25 of those). Complete no-show as a returner, winning only 28% of receiving points and having a single break opportunity.
Khachanov on the other side is playing his best tournament of the year. Racquet change issues seem to be the past. He is starting to put the elements in his game back together and it's starting to give results. He looked really good yesterday. Weather was way better and warmer then forecasted. So he had a difficult task of defending vs Del Potro's missiles. Managed to put enough balls back in court and get a negative winner to error ratio (42 to 48) from the Argentine, which is extremely difficult to do when he is feeling the ball, the way he did in this tournament. His returning was on point with 41% of receiving points win and he was not shy about coming forward when the opportunity presented itself, winning 22/27 net points.
It's pretty interesting that these two players met only once before, even though they are both top 10 guys and those are usually running deep in tourneys and face each other more frequently than others. Their only H2H played out in Paris last year. But it was at the indoor Masters tournament at the end of the year and not Roland Garros. Khachanov was blistering hot back then, winning the title that week and also eliminated Dominic during that process (6-4 6-1). Obviously, this one will not have much in common. Forms of the players are not the same and playing conditions can barely even compare. Weather reporters might have been slightly off with their report on Monday, but it seems they are going to nail the one for Wednesday. It's gonna be one of the coldest days in June with rain showers spread across it. It will create heavier playing conditions that should bother Thiem way more then Khachanov. His game is built around his topspin shots, which create a lively bounce on clay courts, pushing opponent far behind the baseline and /or force him to take the majority of his shots at uncomfortable heights. When there is rain involved, balls are not as lively and his opponents deal with that topspin way easier.
Betting odds & prediction
With that being said, I am not sure that Thiem deserves to be favored by this much in such situation. In my opinion, he is yet to be tested properly in this tournament. Monfils failed to do so, but Khachanov has some similar defensive traits that will make him a tricky matchup in those type of playing conditions.
Josh's Pick: Karen Khachanov +5 (-101)
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