Hometown hero Thiem to meet Baez in Kitzbuehel final

(Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)
(Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images) /

Dominic Thiem had to save 5 match points in his semifinal match with Laslo Djere before finally overcoming the red-hot Serbian in a 3 1/2-hour thriller. His reward is his first ATP final since the 2020 year-end Championships. His opponent will be the Argentine Sebastian Baez who overcame his countryman Tomas Martin Etcheverry in a grueling 3-set match of their own.

Thiem took down Djere 6-7 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (8). The Austrian was in vintage form as he was smoking his signature backhand all over the place. In perhaps the stat of the week, Thiem fought off all 12 break points that he faced in the match. The fact that the 2020 US Open champion was able to maintain this redline level for the duration of the match is a positive sign of his path back to the top of the game.

He will be facing Baez, who also had to dig deep and fight past an opponent that pushed him to the limits. As we turn our attention to the final, the first question is who will be able to recover better?

Predicting who wins the Dominic Thiem versus Sebastian Baez Kitzbuehel final

Thiem has not been pushed to those limits yet in his return from injury. If he can get his body to cooperate, he should be the slight favorite. The home support has been incredible for Thiem and he will need every ounce of that to overcome the feisty Baez who is looking for his 2nd ATP title of the season after winning in Cordoba earlier this year.

Baez does not have a singular overpowering weapon, but he does a lot of things well. The 22-year-old moves well, especially on clay and he can turn defense into offense in a flash. Baez will want to make Thiem work hard in his early service games to really test the legs of the Austrian. Long drawn-out rallies should be the expectation here.

Thiem’s backhand will be the singular best shot in the final. If he can utilize it to finish points off, that could bode well for his chances.

These two met once before, last year in the Bastad quarterfinals. Baez won that match 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4 so he will have that confidence in the back of his mind.

If Thiem were to win, he would climb back into the Top 80 while Baez is back in the Top 50 with his run.

Both guys will have to dig deep in this one and I see it being a tight battle from the first serve. However, the championship pedigree and extreme home support should carry Thiem across the line.

Prediction: Dominic Thiem wins in three sets

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