Six points out of every 10 will finish with Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem hitting a MAXIMUM of just two balls in the court in their semi-final of the US Open in New York this evening. That’s either no balls in the court (double fault) or one or two for either player. Happening.
Whoever wins this “First Strike” battle will win the match. That’s what millions of points of tennis metrics show us, and what the specific body of work for both players in their five matches to the semi-finals points to as well.
There will be some looong baseline exchanges between the two, but this is not likely where overall dominance will play out. In fact, they have combined to play 266 points of 9+ shots in 10 matches and they only have an eight-shot advantage combined. That’s typically an even battle, and it has definitely proven to be so far – even for these two guys.
Like most heavy-weight battles in a Grand Slam semi-final, dominance in the 0-4 shot rally length will be the most important stat of the evening. Here’s how both players have performed in their first five matches at the 2020 US Open.
2020 US Open: First Five Matches To The Semi-Final
Dominic Thiem- Rally Length Played
- 0-4 Shots = 61% (515)
- 5-8 Shots = 23% (194)
- 9+ Shots = 16% (134)
- Total Points = 843
Dominic Thiem – Rally Length W/L
- 0-4 Shots = 295 won /220 lost = +75
- 5-8 Shots = 118 won / 76 lost = +42
- 9+ Shots = 68 won / 66 lost = +2
Daniil Medvedev – Rally Length Played
- 0-4 Shots = 64% (533)
- 5-8 Shots = 20% (163)
- 9+ Shots = 16% (132)
- Total Points = 828
Daniil Medvedev – Rally Length W/L
- 0-4 Shots = 315 won /218 lost = +97
- 5-8 Shots = 99 won / 64 lost = +35
- 9+ Shots = 69 won / 63 lost = +6
Both players are crafting their real advantage in short rallies. That’s how our sport works!
Here’s a straight-up comparison in other key areas of their game.
Baseline Points Won
- Medvedev = 56%
- Thiem = 54%
Net Points Won
- Thiem = 78% (62/79)
- Medvedev = 66% (44/67)
- Thiem = 62 winners / 122 errors = -60
- Medvedev = 51 winners / 139 errors = -88
- Thiem = 31 winners / 126 errors = -95
- Medvedev = 35 winners / 101 errors = -66
Thiem has been more willing to come to the net and has won more there as well. It’s an extra part of the court to accumulate points – especially when the back of the court promises to be such an even battleground. Thiem’s forehand is definitely performing better than Medvedev’s to the semi-finals, while the Russian has the edge with backhands.
If you see them crushing forehand to forehand, Thiem really has the advantage. If you see them trading backhand to backhand, Medvedev will be liking that more.
It’s going to be a riveting match. As much as long, grinding rallies will captivate your attention, lock on to who is winning the short rallies, and performing better with returns, Serve +1 and Return +1 groundstrokes. That’s where the battle will really be won.