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ATP Doha Dominic Thiem vs Gael Monfils preview, predictions and tips: Thiem targets first outdoor hardcourt final in 23 months

Andrew Hendrie 5 Jan 2018
  • Dominic Thiem vs Gael Monfils is live from Doha around 7.30pm local time today (4.30pm GMT)
  • Thiem has won all three of their previous matches
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Doha at Unibet > live streaming > tennis
Dominic Thiem (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Dominic Thiem continues on his quest to win a first ATP hardcourt title in almost two years when he faces wildcard and former top 10 star Gael Monfils in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finals in Doha today.

Watch and bet on Thiem vs Monfils live from Doha at Unibet > live streaming > tennis. Their semi-final clash begins around 7.30pm local time on Friday (4.30pm GMT).



World No. 5 Dominic Thiem has struggled to repeat his fine showings on clay when transitioning back to hardcourt over the last 24 months or so, but the Austrian has put himself in a position to kick off 2018 with some success on the surface, advancing into the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finals without relinquishing a set. Thiem hasn’t made it to an outdoor hardcourt final since claiming the Acapulco title in February 2016 - can the top seed break his dry run over the next couple of days in Doha? Standing in his way in the semis is flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils, who has dropped to No. 46 in the world after a horror run of injuries derailed his 2017 season. Thiem and Monfils take to court around 7.30pm local time on Friday (4.30pm GMT).

Thiem is attempting to join an honour roll of illustrious names to have captured the Doha title over the last decade, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, but the Austrian enforcer will have too do something he hasn’t done in 23 months on Friday if he is to give himself a chance - and that’s reach a final on outdoor hardcourts. The last time Thiem achieved such a feat was in February 2016 when he captured the ATP 500 crown in Acapulco, while he also made the final of the indoor hardcourt event in Metz in September later that season.

But Thiem is playing some solid tennis this week at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, progressing to the final four without dropping a set in victories over Evgeny Donskoy, Aljaz Bedene and rising teenage star Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 19-year-old came into their quarter-final showdown in the form of his life with wins in 16 of his last 19 matches, but Thiem subdued the Greek youngster with his muscular brand of tennis from the baseline, blasting 33 winners and being aggressive on return, winning 16 of 27 points on Tsitsipas’ second serve.

“I was serving well again today and returning well. That's what I was working on in the off-season so it already pays off now,” Thiem said on court after the match.

After compiling yet another stellar clay court season in 2017, including winning the title in Rio de Janeiro, finishing runner-up in Barcelona and Madrid (his first ATP Masters 1000 final) and making the semi-finals of Rome (defeating Rafael Nadal) and the French Open (defeating Novak Djokovic), the next step for Thiem to really establish himself as a top player 12 months of the season is to repeat those efforts on hardcourt and grass - and claiming the title this week in Doha will provide him with a nice platform to do that at the Australian Open later this month and for the remainder of the year.

Gael Monfils (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, after compiling a magnificent 44-17 record during a career-best 2016 season, Gael Monfils was restricted to far less tournaments in 2017 because of injury, and as a result the enigmatic Frenchman ended the season with a 18-14 match record and a year-end ranking of No. 46 - his lowest mark since 2013.

It’s such a tough break for Monfils, who had finally began to find some consistency in his supremely talented and athletic game after his outstanding 2016, which was highlighted by winning the biggest title of his career in Washington D.C., finishing runner-up at the Monte-Carlo Masters and Rotterdam, making his first grand slam semi-final since 2008 at the US Open - along with more semis at the Toronto Masters and Tokyo - and quarter-final runs at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami and the Rio Olympics, results that saw him qualify for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London and finish 2016 ranked No. 6 in the world.

But Monfils wasn’t able to defend or build on any of those tremendous results as niggling injury problems surfaced consistently throughout 2017, denying him the chance to generate any sort of momentum. The 30-year-old’s best showings were a runner-up showing on the grass of Nottingham and R16 finishes at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, but ultimately knee, ankle, achilles and thigh injuries were too much and Monfils decided to shut down his season after retiring against David Goffin in the third round of the U.S. Open.

Taking a late wildcard into Doha, Monfils appears to be gradually regaining some of his best form and operating at close to full fitness, taking out Paolo Lorenzi and Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets before setting up this semi-final showdown with Thiem with a straight sets triumph over Peter Gojowczyk - although he was forced to save a set point in the second set tiebreak. But beating Thiem could prove a different kettle of fish, especially as he’s yet to conquer the Austrian in their three previous encounters - two of which came on hardcourt. It should be a fun match and it will give a nice indication of where Monfils is really at in his comeback, but all things considered, a fresh Thiem at the start of the season should come away with the win.


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ATP Doha Dominic Thiem vs Gael Monfils preview, predictions and tips: Thiem targets first outdoor hardcourt final in 23 months

Dominic Thiem continues on his quest to win a first ATP hardcourt title in almost two years when he faces wildcard and former top 10 star Gael Monfils in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finals in Doha today.

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