He is set to rise even higher following his victory over friend and hitting partner Ernests Gulbis at the US Open to reach the third round on his debut in New York.
“Both my parents are coaches,” Thiem explained in Paris, “they bought me to the courts at a very young age.” Speaking following his second-round defeat at the hands of Rafael Nadal, the 20-year-old Austrian was mindful of the opportunity that it had offered him to develop his game.
“It’s one of the biggest challenges in sport, especially for a young player like me it’s unbelievable experience and what you can take from the match is probably more important than every practice.”
The scoreline of 6-2 6-2 6-3 against Nadal, who went on to lift the Coupe Mousquetaires left Thiem in sanguine mood. “He [Rafa] doesn’t give you any presents, I had to play every point, my first serve was not strong enough, and I did not get any free points,” he said. “He did not make any stupid mistakes, I think there were some good rallies and I had to make every point, he was running very well and that’s why he was the champion.”
Thiem may not have tested Rafa on this occasion but the then world No.1 recognised his talent. “[Dominic] will have his chances to become a top star and fight for these tournaments,” he said. “I think that he has huge potential and he could be one of the players who is going to replace us. His tennis style is really good. What he could work on is his footwork and how he moves on the court. That's all.”
Mats Merkel, who occasionally works with Thiem as part of the adidas player development programme says, “Dominic is a smart player who hits the ball very hard.”
This is an excerpt from Dominic Thiem: Hot Stuff. To read the full article, get your hands on a copy of tennishead Volume 5 Issue 4. Subscribe to the magazine today or download tennishead on iTunes.