Australian Open Round of 16 Predictions Including Dominic Thiem vs Grigor Dimitrov

While the fate of Novak Djokovic’s tournament hangs in the balance due to a torn abdominal muscle the rest of the remaining men at the 2021 Australian Open sense opportunity, including Djokovic’s next opponent Milos Raonic. Last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem also remains in contention, but he’ll need to get past an in form and much fresher Grigor Dimitrov in the match of the day. Our panel of Damian Kust and Harsh Bhoot offer their predictions.

Novak Djokovic vs Milos Raonic

Harsh: The biggest question mark that looms over this contest is Novak Djokovic’s injury concerns. The Serb has himself admitted it might be a tear and that’s not good news heading into this match. On the other hand if the Serb manages to recover, he knows Milos Raonic all too well. Raonic trails the head to head 0-11 and that’s a telling statistic. The Canadian is playing to his strengths really well at this year’s Australian Open but unfortunately for him, his strengths don’t match up too well against the best returner in the men’s game. If Djokovic regains full fitness, expect the Serb to power through in four sets. Djokovic in 4

Damian: The 11-0 head-to-head (just 3 sets lost) doesn’t lie but there were a couple of close ones in the Novak Djokovic – Milos Raonic rivalry, notably the last time they played each other at Cincinnati last year. How crazy is it to pick an upset here then? I think I’m crazy enough as Djokovic’s injury struggles mid-match against Fritz made him play at a level that wouldn’t cut it against anyone in the field. With no way of telling if Djokovic will manage to recover in time, this could be Raonic’s best chance at getting this scalp that has eluded him for so long. Raonic in 5

Dusan Lajovic vs Alexander Zverev

Harsh: If their past two meetings are anything to go by, then this could get interesting. Both their previous meetings have come at Roland Garros and have gone the distance. However the courts here are much more quicker and with less bounce. That fits well into Alexander Zverev’s groundstrokes and not so much into Dusan Lajovic’s game. The German has been striking the ball cleanly and Lajovic won’t trouble him from the baseline. Expect an easy win for Zverev. Zverev in 3

Damian: Dusan Lajovic managed to show that his two losses at the ATP Cup weren’t a matter of poor disposition, but rather of extremely good opponents. The two met twice at Roland Garros with Alexander Zverev taking the deciding set 6-2 on both occasions. The conditions in Melbourne should favor him a lot more in this matchup. The German has been playing very well, especially in a straightforward dismissal of Adrian Mannarino. Zverev in 3

Dominic Thiem vs Grigor Dimitrov

Harsh: While Dominic Thiem played a lung-buster of a match, Grigor Dimitrov enjoyed a short third round match as his opponent retired early in the second set. While only time will tell how much fatigue comes into the picture, this match shouldn’t be low on quality. The head to head stands at 3-2 in favour of Dimitrov which again makes this match an extremely close one. Both players possess quality groundstrokes with Dimitrov eager to step in and Thiem preferring to hang back and defend like no other at times. The match should be highly entertaining with both players giving their all but the way Thiem carried himself throughout his third round match suggests mentally he’s a bit above most at the moment. Expect Thiem to keep his cool and close it out late in the fifth once again, Thiem in 5

Damian: Dominic Thiem wasn’t convincing in the first two sets against Nick Kyrgios, playing far too passive and allowing himself to get dominated. But as the night conditions slowed the game down, last year’s runner-up got more and more comfortable. Perhaps he needed that sort of a dangerous test to start performing at his usual level in Melbourne. Grigor Dimitrov will be hoping that Thiem will be exhausted after going the distance, especially as the Bulgarian only played for about 40 minutes on Friday. I think that will not be that much of a factor and in that case, Thiem should take this one most of the time. Thiem in 4

Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Aslan Karatsev

Harsh: What an absolute magnificent performance from both these players in their respective third round matches. Felix Auger-Aliassime may not have seen too much of Aslan Karatsev outside of the challenger tour but the way the Russian dispatched Diego Schwartzman was a bold statement. Fortunately for the Canadian, he too managed to put up a dominant display of power hitting taking out his countryman Denis Shapovalov. If Karatsev brings the same level once again it won’t be easy for Auger-Aliassime to wrestle control of the match. Out of the both, Karatsev’s game looks likelier to misfire at crucial points especially considering the occasion. Expect the Canadian to better his best ever showing at a Grand Slam. Auger-Aliassime in 3

Damian: If you’ve been following the ATP Challenger Tour last fall, Aslan Karatsev showing up on the main circuit shouldn’t come as a surprise. There was no way to predict how easy his win over Diego Schwartzman would be though with the Russian blasting 50 winners and completely dominating his opponent off the ground. Felix Auger-Aliassime is yet to lose a set as well and has been doing very well. Is it wise to expect Karatsev to keep up this level? Perhaps, and against an opponent like Auger-Aliassime who doesn’t feel that comfortable on the back foot, taking the ball early and going for the all-out attack could work again. Karatsev in 5

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