Rotterdam R1 previews and predictions: Thiem vs. A. Zverev, Dimitrov vs. M. Zverev

Recent ATP title winners Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov will be back in action on Wednesday in Rotterdam. Zverev is going up against No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem, while Dimitrov is looking to keep his hot streak going with the other Zverev brother across the net.

Alexander Zverev vs. (2) Dominic Thiem

Thiem and Zverev will be facing each other for the fifth time in their careers when they meet again in round one of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Wednesday. All four of their previous encounters came last season, with Thiem taking the first three before Zverev exacted a measure of revenge via a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 decision at the Shanghai Masters. The eighth-ranked Austrian prevailed in three sets at 250-point events in Munich and Nice to go along with a four-set triumph in the French Open fourth round.

These rising stars have continued to go in opposite directions since Zverev turned the tide in Shanghai. Perhaps weighted down by a heavy schedule, Thiem slumped throughout the second half of last season and so far in 2017 he is just 5-4. Rotterdam’s No. 2 seed is coming off an opening 6-4, 6-4 loss to Nikoloz Basilashvili in Sofia. Zverev, on the other hand, battled his way to the Montpellier title last week–good for the second ATP winner’s trophy of his career. The 18th-ranked German, who dropped a five-setter to Rafael Nadal in round three of the Australian Open, picked up wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet to cap off his Montpellier run. A clear edge in current form goes to Zverev.

Pick: Zverev in 2

(5) Grigor Dimitrov vs. Mischa Zverev

Like the younger Zverev brother, Dimitrov is fresh off a title in his home country of Bulgaria. The world No. 12 lost his opening set in Sofia to Jerzy Janowicz but then reeled off eight victorious sets in a row at the expense of Janowicz, Basilashvili, Viktor Troicki, and David Goffin. Dimitrov has unquestionably been one of the best players this year, with an additional title in Brisbane and a semifinal showing in Melbourne to put his record at an amazing 14-1.

Up first in Rotterdam for the fifth seed is the elder Zverev, whom Dimitrov has never faced. The 34th-ranked German lost his Montpellier opener in straight sets to Kenny De Schepper, but the Zverev brothers teamed up to capture the doubles title last week. So this Zverev still has some momentum, as well, not far removed from an improbable run to the Australian Open quarterfinals that featured an upset of world No. 1 Andy Murray. That being said, Zverev is 0-3 in his last three singles matches and 0-7 in his last seven sets. Dimitrov’s hot streak is still in progress–to put it mildly–so it could be one-way traffic for him on Wednesday.

Pick: Dimitrov in 2

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