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Dominic Thiem makes a happy home in Vienna

Matt Zemek

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Susan Mullane -- USA TODAY Sports

Dominic Thiem is making it harder and harder to question his hardcourt credentials, which makes it easier and easier to be excited about the 2020 Australian Open for the Austrian.

It remains very unfortunate that Thiem wasn’t fully healthy for the U.S. Open. He had a legitimate chance to make a first major semifinal away from Roland Garros. That loss to Thomas Fabbiano was not a verdict on his tennis. His body betrayed him.

Yet, in Beijing and then Shanghai and now in Vienna, Thiem has played quality hardcourt tennis on a sustained basis. Nicolas Massu is certainly improving Thiem’s approach to hardcourt matches. These are not extremely slow surfaces, either. Thiem’s distinct lack of comfort in fast-court tennis isn’t a thing of the past… but it has been dramatically reduced. That has been apparent in this October of advancement.

One gets the sense that Thiem is settling into life on hardcourts. No, he isn’t close to figuring things out on grass, but as we wrote earlier this year, there’s nothing wrong with being a two-surface player. If Thiem comes close to Stan Wawrinka’s clay-hardcourt combination, he will land in the Hall of Fame before his career is done.

What is especially worth noting in Vienna, after Thiem won another home-nation tournament (in addition to Kitzbuhel in the post-Wimbledon clay season), is that his draw was not easy. He played nemesis Fernando Verdasco and fought him off. He beat a determined and in-form version of Diego Schwartzman in the final. Most of all, he handled the rising young Italian, Matteo Berrettini, in a contentious three-set semifinal on Saturday.

Berrettini beat Thiem in Shanghai. For Dominic to quickly avenge that loss is a manifestation of the hardcourt coping skills he has cultivated this season.

Dominic Thiem looked at home on Vienna’s hardcourts — not just because it was his home country, but because hardcourts are not the thorn in his side that they once were.

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Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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