opinion / by Stephen Boughton
Dominic Thiem has been banging at the door of the Big 3’s castle for a few years now – doing everything thing he can to wrestle a Major title from the grasp of the 3 most dominant tennis players of all time. Is he missing something? What can he do differently? Is time running out for Thiem?
The Rise of the Prince of Clay
Thiem made his mark on the ATP tour in ’15-’16 by winning multiple clay ATP250 events and becoming known as powerful clay-court specialist. Since 2016 he has lived in the Top 10 ranking. Other thank King Rafa, Thiem has been the most consistent and best player on Clay, making 2 Semis and 2 Finals at Rolland Garros in the last four years. It seems like Thiem has been playing a very high level, especially on Clay, for a long time now. Four years of pushing against the Big 3 to breakthrough and win a Grand Slam, may feel like an excruciatingly long time for Thiem fans, but time is NOT running out.
Thiem is a Pro’s Pro
Time is not running out for Dominic because his body is prepared to last him a LONG time with the way he takes care of it. Thiem’s training programs with fitness coach Duglas Cordero will make you tired just watching. Thiem is highly motivated, working at keeping his body healthy and fit and not seeming to get distracted. Unlike many of Thiem’s fellow young challengers to the Big 3, Theim has consistently been working hard to put himself in the best position to win a Major that he can…and it’s paying off.
An All-Court Threat
When Thiem beat Federer to win the Indian Well’s title in 2019 he showed the world that he is officially done being a clay court specialist (even though the IW courts are very clay-like). He followed that up with making his 2nd French Open final. The real show that his hard-court game had finally arrived was his brilliant wins against Djokovic and Federer at the ATP Finals. On the fast, indoor court in London, he showed he could beat the best in the business on their best courts. But could he do it in a Major final?
Thiem fought for another chance to win a Slam by beating Nadal in the QFs, Zverev in the SF, to set up a meeting with 7 Time AO Champ Novak Djokovic in the Final. Facing the ultimate test in the final showed that Thiem is RIGHT THERE to win a Slam on hard or clay surfaces. Being barely outlasted by the veteran big match player Djokovic, Thiem was unable to finish off the match with the lead he had gained. But he did have the lead. He showed he could go toe to toe with the best hard court player in the world for 5 sets. He seemed to gas out by the end with a mixture of fatigue from a tough tournament and defensive brilliance from Djokovic.
Despite a disappointing result in the final, the maturity He showed in getting there should inspire him to have his best-ever season in 2020. With the “prime” age of a tennis player being pushed further and further back, Thiem has more than enough time to make a significant mark in the tennis history books.
by Stephen Boughton, founder & fire starter @theslicetennis
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