Dominic Thiem looks to advance to the finals in Kitzbuhel against Lorenzo Sonego
Dominic Thiem looks to advance to the finals in Kitzbuhel against Lorenzo Sonego|

Kitzbuhel Friday semis: Abrams picks Dominic Thiem vs. Lorenzo Sonego and Albert Ramos-Vinolas vs. Casper Ruud

Matches start at 7:30 am EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Generali Open

Kitzbuhel, Austria

Friday, August 2, 2019

Men’s Semifinals

Dominic Thiem over Lorenzo Sonego

Sometimes we forget what amazing athletes all of the ATP Tour players are, and how close someone who is ranked in the 50’s is to someone who may be ranked in the Top 20. Lorenzo Sonego is one of those players that often gets left in the dust because he’s ranked in the 50’s, is from Italy, and he’s not the #1 player from there (the Fabulous Fognini is Italy’s best), and because he’s young and doesn’t have an international profile yet. But this guy can play. He’s taken out three terrific clay courters here, in Frederico Delbonis, Roberto Carballes Baena, and Fernando Verdasco. Interestingly, he needed third set tiebreakers to beat the first two, but he blew away Verdasco, a very accomplished player himself, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarters. This year he’s been hit or miss, doing very well in Miami, Monte Carlo, and Turkey—just four weeks ago–but losing immediately in the recent tournaments in London and Gstaad. This is a good week, even if he goes down to world #4, Dominic Thiem, as I expect. Thiem surprisingly lost last week to Andrey Rublev in two tiebreakers in Hamburg, and went down in the first round at Wimbledon on the grass to the serving of American Sam Querrey. But he did win six matches and got to the finals of Roland Garros for the second year in a row, which represented the fourth year in a row that he got to the semis or better in Paris, which is quite a feat in and of itself. Thiem should take out Sonego based on his pounding, dominating groundstrokes. Thiem hits his forehand and backhand about as hard, and dominates with them much like Ivan Lendl used to do in the 80’s, and he’s still only 25-years-old. There are some terrific young players under 21 on the Tour right now, but the only ones who eventually could compete with Thiem, especially on clay, would be Tsitsipas and FA2. This guy is a bull, and he’s ready to gore Sonego.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas over Casper Ruud

I love almost everything about Casper Ruud, from his tennis genealogy to his happy-go-lucky demeanor. And, of course, his improving professional approach to tennis as his passion and his career. He surprised me a little in taking out veteran Pablo Cuevas in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6 and setting up this semi-final matchup. Ramos-Vinolas has had an awfully nice run lately, taking out Fucsovics, Munar and Chardy here, after winning Gstaad last week, and running to the semis in Bastad the week before. He now has an 11-1 record over three weeks, and on the ATP Tour, that’s “Federer-like”. I’d be surprised if the Spaniard lost this match against Ruud. Look into each of their eyes, and Ruud reminds you of the amiable boy next door, while Ramos-Vinolas looks like an assassin. His eyes penetrate and frighten. His demeanor is serious and businesslike. And his game is a mixture of all of those adjectives. This is not fun for him. It’s serious business, and he’s going to take care of it right now.

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