Zverev on the way up in Rotterdam
Sascha won last meeting with Thiem in Beijing
Sky Sports 1 from 10am Wednesday
Newly-crowned Open Sud de France champion Sascha Zverev will be back in action just three days after winning the Montpellier title when he takes on Dominic Thiem in Rotterdam’s ATP World Tournament.
Zverev rose to 18th in the world after he beat Richard Gasquet in straight sets on Sunday and the 19-year-old German is the 8-11 favourite to beat the second seed in this blockbuster first-round clash.
The two players know each other well. This will be their fifth meeting in less than a year and it is Thiem who leads the head-to-head battle 3-1. But Zverev, who is four years the Austrian’s junior, is catching up fast and is likely to surpass the 23-year-old in the rankings if he continues his steep rise.
Thiem’s three victories came last summer on the European clay – a surface where his game is shown to best effect – but Zverev reversed the form when they met on a hard court in Beijing and it’s no surprise to see the younger man favoured in the betting for the first time.
Based on what they’ve achieved in 2017, there could still be some juice in Zverev’s price.
He pushed Rafael Nadal all the way in the third round of the Australian Open before beating three Frenchmen on his way to a second career title in Montpellier.
Thiem made it through to the last 16 in Melbourne but never looked entirely comfortable in the early rounds before losing to David Goffin.
He made a low-key return to action in Sofia last week and was defeated in straight sets by lowly-ranked Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Zverev should be fit enough after a three-day rest and Thiem will have to raise his game if he is to stand a chance of beating the youngster.
3pts 8-11 general