Nitto ATP Finals Preview & Prediction: Kevin Anderson vs Dominic Thiem

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The opening match of the 2018 Nitto ATP finals in Group Lleyton Hewitt pits two Grand Slam finalists with very contrasting game styles. Big serving South African Kevin Anderson makes his debut at the season-ending finale against a player he has beaten on six occasions, all victories unsurprisingly coming on the hard courts. This year though, Dominic Thiem, the powerful baseliner who reached the final of the French Open, has been able to halt that losing streak by notching a couple of wins including a very impressive straights sets win at the US Open.

Anderson, who is South Africa’s first participant at the ATP Finals in 23 years, has enjoyed a career-best year, occupying sixth position on the race to London. Despite losing early in Paris Masters, which is quite understandable after winning in Vienna, the 32-year-old should be fresh for this event.

Thiem, meanwhile, having reached his first Major final this year, played some of the most accomplished tennis on the hard courts in his young career at this year’s US Open. He knocked out Anderson en route to his dramatic quarter finals loss to Nadal. He won the indoor hard court in St. Petersburg which will be immense for his confidence on this surface. This is a third year in succession that the Austrian has qualified for a place in the ATP Finals, and we can safely say he has established himself as a serial top 10 player.
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Prediction: The most recent meeting between the pair is of course that US Open match which Thiem fairly won in straights, but their encounter in DC last year was an epic. As I mentioned, Anderson has particularly enjoyed this match up because 7 out of the 8 matches they played were on hard courts and Thiem just did not have the answers except for that match in New York this year. I think by standing far back on the baseline gives the Austrian such relative comfort of neutralizing serve very well. Thiem’s slice return is of course not as good as Federer’s, but it will trouble Anderson big time as evident in that US Open match. I fancy Thiem to win this and I think we will see at least one tie breaker.

Pick: Dominic Thiem in 3

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