Dominic Thiem continues his quest for a second Rio Open title when he meets Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager in the quarter-finals on Friday night.
Dominic Thiem ?? vs Gianluca Mager ?? Match Info
Date: Friday February 21
Tournament: ATP Rio de Janeiro QF
Court: Quadra Guga Kuerten
Time: 7.00pm local time (10.00pm GMT)
Dominic Thiem vs Gianluca Mager Head-to-Head
Dominic Thiem vs Gianluca Mager Match Preview
It certainly hasn’t been a comfortable route to the quarter-finals for Thiem, but the Austrian has nevertheless navigated his way into the 500-level Rio Open quarter-finals as he attempts to win his second title in the Brazilian city.
Thiem was pushed to three sets by Brazilian wildcard Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves in the opening round and needed to receive treatment on his left knee before completing a 6-2 4-6 6-1 victory, while he was once again forced to a deciding set in the second round on Thursday night, overcoming Spanish youngster Jaume Munar by a 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4 scoreline in two hours and 41 minutes. Thiem fired a total of 40 winners to 43 unforced errors, but his forehand was the difference in the end as the top seed blasted 27 clean winners off that wing.
After finishing runner-up at the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic earlier this month, Thiem made the smart decision to pull out of the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires last week, but it’s clear the Austrian is far from his best at the moment and possibly should have considered withdrawing from Rio, especially with his Indian Wells title defence (where he’s defending 1000 points) coming up soon.
In saying that, Thiem has never been someone to cut tournaments from his schedule, and perhaps he’s going to end up playing himself into form this week. The Rio Open draw certainly isn’t the strongest, especially for a 500-level tournament, with Borna Coric and Cristian Garin the only other seeded players remaining in the quarter-finals.
Thiem will certainly fancy his chances of a more routine match-up when he comes up against a qualifier ranked No. 125 in the world for a spot in the semi-finals on Friday night. He also has big incentive to win this clash – because if he does, Thiem will rise to No. 3 in the rankings for the first time in his career.
Mager is in the middle of the best tournament of his career so far, qualifying for the main draw with dominant 6-1 6-2 and 6-0 6-2 wins over Andrea Collarini and Attila Balazs before knocking off last week’s Buenos Aires champion Casper Ruud in the opening round by a 7-6(4) 7-5 scoreline. Sensing his opportunity to make a first ATP quarter-final, Mager made no mistake in the second round on Thursday, taking care of Joao Domingues 6-3 7-6(5), meaning he’s now won four matches in Rio without dropping a set.
The 25-year-old has experienced quite an unusual rise through the rankings – Mager was never once ranked on the Junior Circuit, and that’s because – by his own admission – he didn’t start taking tennis seriously until he was 18, with the Italian, like many others from the nation, also very keen on becoming a football player growing up. However, since finding his feet on tour, Mager has put together a steady rise, first cracking the top 200 in February last year as he won three Challenger titles throughout 2019. Mager hit a career-high ranking of No. 114 earlier this year despite failing to win back-to-back matches before this week and is projected to surpass that mark regardless of how he fares against Thiem in Rio.
Dominic Thiem vs Gianluca Mager Prediction
Thiem is far from his best and has found himself in two battles already this week, but he continues to plug away, so he must be confident of finding some form soon. This looms as the perfect match for the Austrian to play himself into a better level – Mager has never played a quarter-final at tour-level before and while he’s definitely on his way to the top 100, he doesn’t have the game to match it with Thiem if the top seed is playing his best tennis.