In some peoples eyes February is a little to early for a clay court tournament but who can resist the beauty and heat of Rio de Janeiro.
Dominic Thiem is one of those that always heads to Rio following the Australian Open bidding to pick up his title of the year.
Brazilian tennis isn’t known for its singles players. On the doubles tour they have had Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares both picking up major success in doubles but have struggled to produce singles players.
Right now the highest ranked Brazilian is Thiago Monteiro, the 25 year old is ranked at 91 in the world but Dominic Thiem’s opponent was in fact the Brazilian number eight!
Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves. The match began hours before his 22nd birthday and what a birthday for him. A wildcard into a home ATP 500 in what is his ATP main draw debut against one of the best players and best clay court players in the world.
Early on the young Brazilian showed good fight but once Dominic Thiem got his teeth stuck in he soon took the first set 6-2.
Thiem has a habit of checking out of matches and letting the intensity drop and this happened. Felipe was spurred on by the home crowd as he continued to fight against the Austrian who looked a little lost.
At 5-3 30-30 scoreboard pressure looked like it might be settling in for the main draw debutant but he held his nerve to take an impressive set 6-4 against the world number three.
Dominic Thiem reacted as you’d expect him to, the Austrian improved his level and became more solid in longer rallies withstanding the pressure the power of the Brazilian put him under.
The third set was like a candle nearing the end of it’s burn. Felipe continued to show good ideas on the court but the execution didn’t come and physically was struggling.
Before going a double break down at 0-4 he did call on the trainer momentarily and was staring down a defeat.
Dominic continued to move the ball about with ease and pulled the Brazilian all over the back of the court racing to a 5-0 lead.
Thiem won 18 of the last 21 points to extend his lead to 5 but some big forehands from the Brazilian meant that Dominic Thiem would have to serve this one out on his own serve.
From 40-15 the Austrian was taken to deuce by Alves following some wild hitting from the Austrian who converted in the end on his third match point but would have hoped for a cleaner performance in round one.