Dominic Thiem may yet make the top five this season on the ATP Tour. The Austrian, among other clay-court results in 2017, was in the final for Madrid and he was in the late rounds of the 2017 French Open. There are a lot of ranking points associated with those results. Thiem also has a title from Rio earlier this season, a result that also came on clay. With Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic both out of the mix for the balance of the season, two competitors for Thiem are completely out of the picture for all tournaments between now and 2018. Those injuries have good implications for the Austrian, a player that is actually third best this season despite lacking significant results in non-clay-court events.

Thiem posts back-to-back early-round exits

Last week Thiem entered the Washington draw, a move that represented a break from a long-term trend for him. The last several years running he was always playing in Kitzbuhel, a clay-court event in Austria. Thiem entered Washington looking to do well on the hard-court surface and maybe improving his results on cement. However, he went out early after a huge battle with Kevin Anderson. Now in Montreal, Thiem once again looked for a good run on the hard-court surface to establish himself as a threat. However, he went out in the tournament's second round on Tuesday night, losing to Diego Schwartzman.

Next up for Thiem is the Western & Southern Open, a tournament that the Austrian might do well in.

Having gone out on Tuesday in Montreal, the other key players in the Rogers Cup will still be looking at logging court time in the days ahead. Perhaps Thiem will be better rested for Cincinnati than his main competitors will be.

Struggles against peripheral players not good

However, that Thiem was not able to close out players like Anderson and Schwartzman really shows where the Austrian is at on the hard-court surface.

He might be one of the best players on clay and, at the age of 23, he might be more resilient to injury than many that are older than him. Those two characteristics make him a key player on tour at this point in his career. However, he doesn't look like anything but a top-25 player on the hard-court surface itself. With so many events staged on that surface, including all of the tournaments remaining this season, Thiem will need to improve in order to stay significant on tour.

With all the injuries to players ranked above him, he may in fact back into a high ranking at season's end. Besides Wawrinka and Djokovic, there appears to be something going on with both Andy Murray and Marin Cilic. If those players miss a lot of events then Thiem looks like he could benefit. However, the Austrian certainly doesn't look like he will charge into a high ranking as he is struggling with some peripheral players on cement. His recent results don't bode well for Cincinnati, Flushing Meadows, Shanghai, Paris, nor the World Tour Finals.