Dominic Thiem (AUT) def Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 75 64
Don’t let the scoreline fool you, this was a fantastic match between Thiem and Bedene. Aljaz may be ranked outside the top-40 (World #49), but based on their history, Dominic knew the “new” Slovenian was a tough ask.
In 2015, Bedene earned a deciding-set win over Thiem in the Irving Challenger. Two months later at Roland Garros, Thiem won their 1st-Round match in four sets.
A fast first set
In just 36-minutes, the two were nearly through with the first set. Each with a break, they were on-serve, but Thiem was hungry for another. Bedene saved set-point and served his way out of a jam to level it at 5-all, but couldn’t hold-off the World #5 two games later. Thiem won set-1 on his return, with a huge backhand pass.
Steady as she goes
The second was tight. Bedene battled, saving 12 break points by the end of the match, but he couldn’t protect when it mattered most. At 4-5, serving to stay in the match, Aljaz missed on Thiem’s second match point and headed for the locker room.
Dominic was efficient on Wednesday. He only allowed Bedene 3 break chances, and saved two of them. More importantly, he was effective at consistently applying pressure on an opponent playing up to his aggressive play. While Dominic had plenty of “early season, knock the rust off” misses, he should take away confidence from the win. Bedene’s a quality player, talented at using using his opponents’ strengths against them.
Up Next: Quarterfinals. [Q] Stefanos Tsitsipas
Thiem will face 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Quarters, who’s been tearing up the draw since emerging from qualifying with a double tiebreak victory over Sweden’s Elias Ymer on Sunday. On New Year’s Day, the top player from Greece downed 2014 Doha Semifinalist Florian Mayer. Then on Wednesday night, he played fearless tennis against 2013 Doha Champion Richard Gasquet, dispatching the former champ in two sets.
Thiem and Tsitsipas have never faced each other. Dominic would be wise to take this one seriously. The World #91 is dangerous, with nothing to lose. Last year in Antwerp, Stefanos knocked-out World #10 David Goffin to reach his first Tour-level Semifinal.
AT JUST 24-YEARS-OLD, HE OWNS 8 ATP WORLD TOUR SINGLES TITLES AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS CAREER, STARTS THE NEW YEAR AS A TOP-5 PLAYER. LAST SEASON, HE WAS EXTRAORDINARY; ONE OF ONLY TWO PLAYERS TO REACH THE ROUND OF 16 OR GREATER AT ALL FOUR MAJORS. IN JANUARY, HE REACHED THE 4TH ROUND OF THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN, THEN A MONTH LATER, CAPTURED HIS 8TH CAREER TITLE AT THE RIO OPEN. DURING THE CLAY-SWING – HE DEFEATED WORLD #1 ANDY MURRAY TO REACH THE BARCELONA FINAL, AND FOLLOWED THAT UP WITH A FINALIST RUN AT THE MADRID MASTERS. IN THE ROME MASTERS, HE DEFEATED WORLD #4 RAFAEL NADAL TO REACH THE SEMIFINALS, THEN POSTED HIS FIRST CAREER VICTORY OVER NOVAK DJOKOVIC, RETURNING TO THE SEMIFINALS OF THE FRENCH OPEN. WITH ROUND OF 16 RUNS AT BOTH WIMBLEDON AND THE US OPEN, HE QUALIFIED FOR THE YEAR-END ATP FINALS FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR. COMPETING IN HIS SECOND QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN, FROM AUSTRIA, PLEASE WELCOME THE #5 PLAYER IN THE WORLD – DOMINIC THIEM
THIS 28-YEAR-OLD ENTERS 2018 AFTER A CAREER-BEST SEASON LAST YEAR ON THE ATP WORLD TOUR. BACK IN APRIL, HE WAS UNBEATABLE, WINNING 16 CONSECUTIVE MATCHES!: HE CAPTURED BACK-TO-BACK ATP CHALLENGER TOUR TITLES IN FRANCE AND ITALY, THEN PLAYED THROUGH QUALIFYING TO REACH HIS SECOND-CAREER TOUR-LEVEL FINAL AT THE HUNGARIAN OPEN IN BUDAPEST. AT WIMBLEDON, HE DEFEATED IVO KARLOVIC IN AN EPIC 4-AND-A-HALF HOUR, 5-TIE-BREAK MARATHON, THEN DAMIR DZUMHUR (Da-MEER JUM-hoor), TO REACH THE 3RD-ROUND OF A GRAND SLAM FOR THE SECOND TIME. RANKED AS HIGH AS #45 IN THE WORLD, HE OWNS 14 CAREER ATP CHALLENGER TOUR SINGLES TITLES (IN 16 FINALS), AND YESTERDAY, DEFEATED WILD CARD MALEK JAZIRI IN HIS MAIN-DRAW QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN DEBUT. FROM SLOVENIA, PLEASE WELCOME – ALJAZ BEDENE