Final previews and predictions: Wawrinka vs. Baghdatis, Thiem vs. Tomic

A relatively surprising Dubai final that lacks Novak Djokovic will instead pit Marcos Baghdatis against No. 2 seed Stan Wawrinka on Saturday. In Acapulco, a red-hot Dominic Thiem will face Bernard Tomic.

Dubai: Marcos Baghdatis vs. (2) Stan Wawrinka

Wawrinka and Baghdatis will be going head-to-head for the sixth time in their careers when they battle for the title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday. All five of their previous encounters have gone Wawrinka’s way, including three on outdoor hard courts. Their last completed match (Baghdatis retired at Queen’s Club in 2014) came three years ago in Kuala Lumpur, where Wawrinka prevailed 6-1, 7-5. Perhaps their most memorable showdown came at the 2012 Australian Open, although that made news as a result of Baghdatis’ racket-breaking skills as opposed to the actual tennis.

No such antics have been necessary this week for Baghdatis, who is through to his biggest final since Washington, D.C. in 2010. The 57th-ranked Cypriot has advanced this week with victories over Viktor Troicki, Vasek Pospisil, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Feliciano Lopez. Wawrinka’s road through the draw has not been entirely straightforward, as he was pushed to 7-5 in the third set by Sergiy Stakhovsky right off the bet. The second-seeded Swiss has since made simpler work of Franko Skugor, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Nick Kyrgios. A highly-anticipated rematch with Kyrgios ended prematurely when the Aussie retired with a back injury while trailing 6-4, 3-0. Wawrinka has not been at his very best this week or this entire year and the surface favors Baghdatis, so this one should be competitive. But the world No. 4 has a huge edge in recent experience with these kinds of pressure-packed finals and his firepower will likely be too much for Baghdatis in the crucial moments.

Pick: Wawrinka in 3

Acapulco: (5) Bernard Tomic vs. (4) Dominic Thiem

Thiem will wrap up his impressive February swing in fitting fashion, with an appearance in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel title match. The 22-year-old lifted the Buenos Aires trophy earlier this month, upsetting Rafael Nadal in the process. He also reached the Rio de Janeiro semifinals before momentarily running out of gas against Guido Pella. Despite no rest and a change of surface, Thiem is up to his old tricks this week in Acapulco. The world No. 15 has taken out Damir Dzumhur, Dmitry Tursunov, Grigor Dimitrov, and Sam Querrey while surrendering only a single set to Tursunov.

Tomic is bouncing back nicely from early losses in Quito and Delray Beach. The 21st-ranked Australian looked like he was on his way out of Acapulco at the hands of Alexandr Dolgopolov on Friday, but he battled back from a slow start to get the job done 1-6, 6-4, 6-3. That was preceded by straight-set defeats of Rajeev Ram, Adrian Mannarino, and Illya Marchenko. Tomic has Davis Cup duty next weekend but he is now in Acapulco for the long haul so he has no reason to be disinterested–as he was in the opening set against Dolgopolov–since this is his last match of the week no matter what. But he even admitted that he wanted Querrey to win instead of Thiem. And why not? Thiem is absolutely on fire–and he will have plenty in the tank after getting rid of Querrey in a mere 57 minutes.

Pick: Thiem in 2

41 Comments on Final previews and predictions: Wawrinka vs. Baghdatis, Thiem vs. Tomic

  1. Total cuteness in the Sombrero. Well earned. My favorite trophy – the Pear. Acapulco for a tennis tournament on my bucket list.

    Nice speeches from Tom and Dom.

    • Its not a pear, I heard. Somebody said its a gourd holder.

      Congrats to Thiem. At the rate he’s going, he’ll be the youngest top ten player this year, younger than Dimi was when he first reached top ten in 2004.

      Among his batch (I shall group him with Dimi/Raonic), he’s the one with the most appealing game to me – can win on clay and HCs. I like Tomic’s game too but Tomic lacks the speed around the court and has to use his guile to win his matches often.

      • I see him more as the senior member of the younger group ie. Zeverev Junior, Coric, Tomic, Kyrgios etc. If he continues this successful run he will have a bucket load of points to defend next year so even if he does make it into the Top Ten he will have an uphill task to hang on to his ranking.
        Interesting times ahead.

        • Thiem can win the 250 clay events in Europe too so that can help sustain his ranking. He’s good on clay so he may be making the QFs at the clay Masters and even the FO. He’s not bad on the HCs too; I feel he should be able to sustain his ranking in the top 10 should he get there, barring any injury/ies.

  2. Lucky. Have just googled Tomic. I had forgotten he was such a precoious talent and has been around since 2009 on the ATP circuit: he definitely belongs with your group of Dimi, Raonic et al. rather than the current batch of ‘young guns’.

    • Are you talking winning a slam? He’s already been to a 3rd and 4th round at the USO – proof he is no slouch on hard courts. Actually winning is a tad premature at this stage imo.

        • He’s a contender. I would put my most likely to win FO list as this:
          1) Djoker
          2) Stanimal
          3) Rafa
          4) Roger
          5) Nishikori
          6) Thiem
          Really I only see the top three winning. I’d be surprised to see Roger win considering his game isn’t that great on clay anymore because he’s older and it’s a taxing surface. Also he obviously isn’t taking it that seriously cuz he didn’t even schedule any clay court events heading into FO. Now he has because he has to miss IW but still he doesn’t really seem that focused on RG. I put him on the list though because you can’t really ever count him out of contending for a GS and he has a chance especially if the draw gets busted open by upsets or something. Also Nishikori and Thiem aren’t heavy favorites or anything but they have potential to shock the tennis world and spring some upsets and somehow take the Coupe de Mousquetaires by surprise.

          • While I do think that Thiem has had a great run recently, I am not ready to tap him as a contender for any slam, including RG. A slam is a whole other tournament entirely and requires more highly developed skills with endurance, fitness and mental strength.

            Winning 250 and 500 tournaments is great, but that does not necessarily mean that a player is ready to win a slam.

            Thiem is talented and has the variety in his game to do well in this sport. I expect him to continue to do well. He’s a young man on the rise, but I still want to edit and see what happens.

            I thought the Dimitrov was the young guy who would break out first, but that hasn’t happened. He looked ready to do it in 2014, but took a big step back last year and still hasn’t been able to find his best form.

            I do not see Tomic playing consistently well enough to break through. Raonic cannot be ignored after his run at the AO.

            • There is always the possibility the stars could align and Theim find himself holdng a Slam trophy: it happened to Djokovic in 2008, delPo in 2009, and Cilic in 2014. I doubt anybody predicted the outcome of those Majors.

              The sudden overnight fame did none of the above any particular favours apart from the prestige. Djokovic’s results in 2009 and 2010 were relatively disappointing (apart from a single Masters in Paris) and were not to pick up until he went on the first of his tears in 2011. delPotro succumbed to the first of the serious wrist injuries which have continued to plague him ever since. Cilic has never really refound the form that carried him to his Slam.

              I would much rather see Thiem hone his skills and amass a few Masters before concentrating on the glittering prizes. Too much too soon can so often be counter productive in the end.

          • Benny G.
            As much as I’m a Kei fan, not sure I can put him up there for RG. If Delpo can get back close to his best, I’d include him. Big if.

            Agree about your 1-3. Roger? He could make trouble – take some crazy luck to win, tho. Thiem – make trouble this year and possibly win a FO in the coming years.

            Agree about Dimitrov and Tomic. Raonic? The injuries are a concern – almost like with Kei. We’ll see on those two: Milos and Kei. Like them far more mentally than Dimitrov and Tomic.

            Of course, I’m a Kyrgios fan 😀
            Setscha and Fritzy too. And can’t forget Kokkinakis. I was liking Kokk the best of all before his injury.

            • Im impressed with Zverev and Kygrios game wise; not with Coric, Fritz and Kokk.

              Both Zverev and Kygrios have the game, whether baseline or at the net, big serve and great movement, good enough FH and BH.

              I find Coric doing too much running from way behind the baseline but unlike Rafa, he doesnt have a big weapon, ie the FH, for him to be very effective from that position. His game is laborious to say the least. Likewise for Kokkinakis. To me Kokk is workmanlike too, no particular major weapon but relies more on running.

              Fritz has a big serve but he seems slow in his movement, a bit like Raonic. He may be better on quicker surfaces where he need not do much running and relies on his big serve more.

            • rc,

              I agree about the injury issue with Raonic. That could derail him if it keeps happening. I also agree that Raonic and Kei are more mentally tough than Dimi or Tomic.

              I do have to agree with Ricky that Kei isn’t going to do anything on clay.

            • Nishi has a better career record on clay than on hard court.

              Don’t ask Ricky rc. He doesn’t know the numbers.


            • But Barcelona is an accurate representation 😀
              And Kei was monstrous there in 2014.
              Andy Murray won Madrid last year but followed that win up with SF at FO. Nole needed 5 sets.

              Murray won Munich – which isn’t that high and dry. The clay looked wet and clumpy last year.
              Seems Murray had some good results in Monte Carlo a few years ago…

            • Not too many players gonna take out Kei on clay ATM.

              Nole and Wawa about it and Wawa is up and down like a yo-yo. (Tsames for Tsonga and TsLamonf)

            • I actually was thinking of Tsonga and Monfils up there as well and possibly Kyrgios. I have kei there because of his past results at places like Barcelona and Madrid like when he had Nadal but got injured up a set and a break. Either way I don’t think anyone but Novak Stan or Rafa has a good chance except maybe Roger if the draw really helped him out and upsets started happening a lot.

            • Nny
              Partly with Benny about Kei. Kei showed some top clay tennis in 2014. He played incredibly winning Barcelona and up until injured in the Madrid final that year. Injuries kept him from doing anything at FO 2014. His draws in the run up in Barca and Madrid were impressive but his body didn’t hold up, sadly. So – yeah. He’s with Milos right now in general.

              Andy Murray was far too much for Kei last year on clay. Andy might be my #4 on clay this year ahead of Federer. In fact I can’t forget it – Andy had me worried v Nole as a 2016 threat at FO. Sets 3 and 4 v Andy in the SF at FO might have cost Nole some ground mentally, not so much physically, in the Final v Stan.

              Can’t remember watching Kyrgios on clay…but last year I was trying not to watch Kyrgios at all, lol. Like Lucky says – Fritz’s game – probably not good or not ready on clay but still like Coric’s possibilities there.

            • OOPS… the above post of mine was supposed to fit in down here under hawks video…

              FEBRUARY 29, 2016 AT 3:57 PM
              That’s painful for me to watch, Hawk. But thanks – it shows the level Kei is/was capable of on clay.

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