Road to Prague: Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem may be a shy man but he doesn’t play that way. In fact, the 24-year-old Austrian is one of the more aggressive risk-takers on tour.
With a single-handed backhand almost as polished and dynamic as his Team Europe compatriot Roger Federer, the ‘Dominator’ has been rightfully lauded – alongside teammate and close friend, Alexander Zverev – as the next big thing in men’s tennis.
But Thiem is done with waiting. He is currently ranked world No.7 with a bullet faster than his effortlessly powerful forehands.
In six years of pro tennis, Thiem has won eight ATP titles and made the final 16 at seven majors. He reached the semifinals at Roland Garros two years running and, in 2016, qualified for his first ATP Tour final in London.
Growing up in Wiener Neustadt, Dominic Thiem first picked up a racket at age six and three years later partnered with coach and family friend Günter Bresnik – who he still works with today.
Thiem rose quickly up the junior ranks winning 115 of a possible 148 matches and reaching world No.2. He completed his junior career by winning his final three tournaments and soon after was made to fulfil an obligatory six-month military stint in Austria. Not only did the then 21-year-old not miss any ATP events, he won his first career title the following month.
The fact Thiem doesn’t say much often leads to the misconception that he is aloof when in reality he is one of the most grounded and well-liked players on tour.
And why does everyone like him?
“[He’s a] sweet guy. Really honest. Lovely to be around with,” Roger Federer said of Thiem at the US Open.
“Hard working. Super hard working. He goes into the Rafa demographic where between matches they just go really hard. I’m not like that, so I admire those guys that put their head down and work this hard.”
In 2016, the big match player boasted a deciding sets win percentage of 87%, second only to Novak Djokovic, and he is also one of the few men on tour to claim wins against every member of the big five (Wawrinka, Murray, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer).
The Dominator is destined for great things. Already the world No.7 has titles in Nice, Umag, Gstaad, Buenos Aires, Acapulco, Stuttgart and Rio de Janeiro. And, perhaps, more remarkably: a claycourt victory in Rome against none other than Rafael Nadal in May.
There is no question his name belongs with the game’s elite. At the Laver Cup, this is where he is, and where he will be for a very long time.
Thiem’s Road to Prague
Brisbane International, Brisbane (outdoor hard): quarterfinal lost to Grigor Dimitrov 3-6 6-4 3-6
Sydney International, Sydney (outdoor hard): quarterfinal lost to Daniel Evans 6-3 4-6 2-6
Australian Open (outdoor hard): round of 16 lost to David Goffin 7-5 6-7(4) 2-6 3-6 2-6
Garanti Koza Sofia Open, Sofia (indoor hard): round of 16 lost to Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 4-6
ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament (indoor hard): quarterfinal lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert 4-6 6-7(3)
Rio Open, Rio de Janeiro (outdoor clay): final beat Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5 6-4
Abietro Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco (outdoor hard): quarterfinal lost to Sam Querrey 1-6 5-7
BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells (outdoor hard): quarterfinal lost to Stan Wawrinka 4-6 6-4 6-7(2)
Miami Open, Miami (outdoor hard): round of 64 lost to Borna Coric 1-6 5-7
Monte Carlo Masters, Monte Carlo (outdoor clay): round of 16 lost to David Goffin 6-7(4) 6-4 3-6
Barcelona Open, Barcelona (outdoor clay): final lost to Rafael Nadal 4-6 1-6
Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid (outdoor clay): final lost to Rafael Nadal 6-7(8) 4-6
Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome (outdoor clay): semifinal lost to Novak Djokovic 1-6 0-6
Roland Garros, Paris (outdoor clay): semifinal lost to Rafael Nadal 3-6 4-6 0-6
Gerry Weber Open, Halle (outdoor grass): round of 16 lost to Robin Haase 3-6 6-7(7)
Antalya Open, Antalya (outdoor grass): round of 16 lost to Ramkumar Ramanathan 3-6 2-6
Wimbledon, London (outdoor grass): round of 16 lost to Tomas Berdych 3-6 7-6(1) 3-6 6-3 3-6
Citi Open, Washington (outdoor hard): round of 16 lost to Kevin Anderson 3-6 7-6(6) 6-7(7)
Coupe Rogers, Montreal (outdoor hard): round of 32 lost to Diego Schwartzman 4-6 7-6(7) 5-7
Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati (outdoor hard): quarterfinal lost to David Ferrer 3-6 3-6
US Open (outdoor hard): round of 16 lost to Juan Martin del Potro 6-1 6-2 1-6 6-7(1) 4-6