—-For players on tour, it’s a short hop between clay and grass. On grass, it’s also all about playing short hops.
Dominic Thiem, who likes positioning himself deep on clay, would have to sit in the 10th row to do that at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany.
Instead, he tried to play like Federer or Djokovic hugging the baseline, lunging into returns and taking rally balls early.
But the Prince of Clay is not yet royalty on grass. Yuichi Sugita of Japan made Thiem pay for positioning. With quick hands and good timing, Sugita redirected Thiem’s balls back deep into the corners, forcing Thiem to defend with backhand and forehand slices.
Sugita took away his time, rarely allowing Thiem to get set and wind up for the massive swings that blew away everybody but Rafa Nadal on clay in Paris.
After the match, Sugita said it was the biggest win of his life, and he joked that people should enjoy it because it might not happen again.
As for Thiem, he seems far away from winning trophies on grass. At least he’s trying to serve and volley. It’s a work in progress, and we’ll see what he can do at Wimbledon.
(words and images copyright Christopher Johnson Globalite Media all rights reserved)