- No. 5 seed Alexander Zverev defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets Friday at the Madrid Open
- No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem withstood an early challenge from John Isner to prevail in three sets
- The two will meet for the first time since the 2020 US Open final Saturday, May 8 (10:00 am EDT)
For the third straight time – but the first time on clay – Alexander Zverev defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets Friday.
And so, he and Dominic Thiem will meet on Saturday in what could be the de facto final at the Madrid Open, given who remains in the other half of the draw.
Alexander Zverev vs Dominic Thiem Odds
|Player||Spread||Moneyline||Total at DraftKings|
| Alexander Zverev (GER)||-1.5 (-120)||-150||O 22.5 (-114)|
| Dominic Thiem (AUT)||+1.5 (-105)||+123||U 22.5 (-110)|
Odds as of May 7
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The top two pre-tournament favorites, Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas, are now out.
Thiem was next at +700. And suddenly, Zverev (at +2000) is looking pretty good.
Thiem Outlasts a Hobbled Isner
At first, Thiem couldn’t get a handle on how quickly his serve was coming back on Friday, as John Isner was stepping in and taking big cuts at it.
As well, Thiem’s kick serve is by definition less effective on an opponent who’s 6-10.
But the Austrian withstood the first set. And eventually, Isner (who had already pulled out of Rome next week) started showing signs of a hip issue.
Isner was holding serve and hoping for the third-set tiebreak that had decided his two matches against No. 9 seed Roberto Bautista Agut and No. 6 Andrey Rublev.
He didn’t quite get there, losing 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Thiem after his win vs. Isner (via @TennisTV): "I was surprised by his return games. He attacked almost every serve. It took time to adjust, I needed to find a good return position. Luckily there is a lot of space here in Madrid, I used all of that." #MMOPEN
— Lukas Zahrer (@ZahrerLukas) May 7, 2021
Zverev Upsets the Great Nadal
If 2018 Madrid champion Zverev was down the list in the pre-tourney odds, it was because his recent form had been poor.
But that wasn’t due to a slump. An elbow issue had hampered the German. Clearly, by his serve velocity this week, that has been resolved.
Meanwhile, Nadal really struggled Friday. He didn’t hit a single forehand winner in the first set.
“In the 4-2 (game) serving for 5-2, I did a disaster. Another bad game with (the score) 30-love. Of course, playing against one of the best players of the world, under this circumstances, with this speed of the court, is very difficult to still (feel) confident,” Nadal said.
The second set of the 6-4, 6-4 defeat wasn’t much better.
Alexander Zverev vs Dominic Thiem Head-to-Head
|24 (April 20, 1997)||Age||27 (Sept. 3, 1993)|
|Hamburg, Germany||Birthplace||Lichtenworth, Austria|
|14||Career ATP Singles Titles||17|
|No. 3 (Nov. 6, 2017)||Career High Ranking||No. 3 (March 2, 2020)|
|No. 6||Current Ranking||No. 4|
|$24,012,696||Career Prize Money||$28,586,381|
|14-7||2021 Won/Loss record||8-4|
Chapter 11 in the Thiem-Zverev Rivalry
These two have had some good matches and some one-sided ones.
But their most recent one no doubt remains indelibly etched in both their memories.
Zverev was up two sets to none in their 2020 US Open final last September.
And then he was up 5-3 in the fifth set. He served for it and was broken. He had to break to stay in the match (and did).
But he double-faulted twice in the deciding tiebreak.
The match had everything, good and bad.
And it was Thiem’s first career Grand Slam title.
Alexander Zverev vs Dominic Thiem Match History
|2020||US Open (F)||Outdoor Hard||2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (6)||Thiem|
|2020||Australian Open (SF)||Outdoor Hard||3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4)||Thiem|
|2019||ATP Tour Finals (SF)||Indoor Hard||7-5, 6-3||Thiem|
|2018||French Open (QF)||Outdoor Clay||6-4, 6-2, 6-1||Thiem|
|2018||Madrid (F)||Outdoor Clay||6-4, 6-4||Zverev|
|2017||Rotterdam (R32)||Indoor Hard||3-6, 6-3, 6-4||Thiem|
|2016||Beijing (R32)||Outdoor Hard||4-6, 6-1, 6-3||Zverev|
|2016||French Open (R32)||Outdoor Clay||6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3||Thiem|
|2016||Nice (F)||Outdoor Clay||6-4, 3-6, 6-0||Thiem|
|2016||Munich (SF)||Outdoor Clay||4-6, 6-2, 6-3||Thiem|
Rematch of the 2018 Madrid Final
Thiem and Zverev met in the finals of the 2018 Madrid event, won by Zverev in straight sets.
That was the last time he defeated the Austrian.
And yet, Zverev is the slight favorite in this match – helped by the fact that he’s much more dangerous in the best-of-three Masters 1000 format than the best-of-five-set Grand Slam format.
Thiem’s confidence and match toughness will have taken big leaps this week. But he’s still not playing his best. Zverev has been playing close to his best, but much will depend on the steadiness and nerviness of his second serve.
Best Bet: Zverev (-150) in three sets (+320)
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