- John Isner upset No. 9 seed Bautista Agut and No. 6 Andrey Rublev to reach the Madrid quarterfinals
- No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem hasn’t lost a set in two matches as he faces Isner on Friday, May 7, at 7:00 am EDT
- Thiem is the favorite, but Isner is serving rockets. We break down his chances for an upset.
Dominic Thiem hadn’t played in six weeks. John Isner had barely played all season.
And yet they’re looking in mid-season form as they meet in the Madrid Open quarterfinals Friday.
Dominic Thiem vs John Isner Odds
|Player||Spread||Moneyline||Total at DraftKings|
| Dominic Thiem (AUT)||2.5 (+100)||-360||O 23.5 (+100)|
|John Isner (USA)||+2.5 (-125)||+270||U 23.5 (+125)|
Odds as of May 6
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You wouldn’t have expected the unseeded Isner to come through a bracket that included No. 6 seed Andrey Rublev and No. 9 seed Roberto Bautista Agut – both daunting foes on clay.
Especially because the 36-year-old American had had just two matches on clay (both last October in Paris) since … the 2018 French Open.
And yet, here he is.
Madrid Conditions Suit Isner
The 6-foot-10 American, who turned 36 on April 26, hasn’t played Madrid much in recent years.
But it suits him. Clay in general works; it gives him time to set up his groundstrokes and still get free points with his serve. The quick conditions at altitude this week only help.
Isner made the Madrid quarterfinals in 2015. He didn’t return until 2018, and made the quarterfinals again, losing to eventual champion Alexander Zverev. This is his first time back since then.
Third-Set Tiebreak King
So far this week, five of Isner’s eight sets played have gone the distance.
He had 29 aces in his upset win over Rublev in the third round Thursday (in a third-set tiebreak).
Against Bautista Agut in the second round, he had 32 aces (and zero double faults). Yes, another third-set tiebreak victory.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) May 6, 2021
Both Players Short of Match Play
This trip to Madrid is the first time Isner has left the Americas in 2021. He began the year at Delray Beach, skipped the Australian trip and then played Acapulco and Miami. He arrived Madrid 4-3 on the year.
Thiem came in just 5-4 on the season.
He played ATP Cup and the Australian Open in Melbourne, and then Doha and Dubai in the Middle East (where he was shocked by Lloyd Harris in the first round in Dubai).
That was six weeks ago.
But Thiem hasn’t dropped a set in his first two matches.
Dominic Thiem vs John Isner Head-to-Head
|27 (Sept. 3, 1993)||Age||36 (April 26, 1985)|
|Lichtenworth, Austria||Birthplace||Greensboro, NC|
|17||Career ATP Singles Titles||15|
|No. 3 (March 2, 2020)||Career High Ranking||No. 8 (July 16, 2018)|
|No. 4||Current Ranking||No. 39|
|$28,586,381||Career Prize Money||$19,405,440|
|7-4||2021 Won/Loss record||7-3|
Rare Tour Meetings Between Two Veterans
This is the 15th pro season for Isner, the 11th for Thiem. And yet, the two have rarely met.
On the regular Tour, they have played just twice, both all the way back in 2015.
The Laver Cup, a “Europe vs the World” exhibition whose results nevertheless appear in the ATP Tour head-to-heads, uses a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set.
And that one, during the inaugural edition played in Prague, couldn’t have been closer.
Isner had 23 aces on a fast indoor court. And it came down to the wire.
But even that one was nearly four years ago when Isner was ranked No. 17 to Thiem’s No. 7.
Dominic Thiem vs John Isner Match History
|2017||Laver Cup||Indoor Hard||6-7 (15), 7-6 (2), [10-7]||Thiem|
|2015||Beijing (R32)||Outdoor Hard||7-5, 6-1||Isner|
|2015||Nice (SF)||Outdoor Clay||7-6 (5), 6-3||Thiem|
Big Body, Worn Down
We’d give Isner a better shot if he hadn’t played six sets, 4 1/2 hours, and two match-deciding tiebreaks over the last two days.
At 36, with so little match play and such a big body to yank around the court, that’s a lot.
Still, the American won the first set in both those matches. So that’s a good call against Thiem at +205.
The odds that they’ll play at least one tiebreak (-177) aren’t great. But they’re almost a lock.
And they can go over 25.5 games (+118) even if they play two tiebreak sets and don’t even go the distance.
Best Bet: Thiem in three sets (+275)
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