As Dominic Thiem wields his sleek, single-handed backhand so superbly it’s easy to imagine he was born with it. But like most juniors, Thiem utilized a two-handed backhand before long-time coach Gunter Bresnik encouraged the change. It was a risk that’s delivered many rewards: with eight titles won across all surfaces, the exciting 24-year-old also has match wins against every top-five opponent.
Thiem was introduced to the game at age six by tennis coaching parents Wolfgang and Karin, with his younger brother Moritz also a lover of the sport. Strong connections are a theme for the Austrian; admiring countrymen Stefan Koubek and Jurgen Melzer as a child, he practiced for a time with Roger Federer and now shares close friendships with many colleagues.
Thiem’s ‘Dominator’ nicknamed proved fitting from his first years on tour; in 2015, the then 21-year-old claimed his maiden title in Nice, with victories soon added in Umag and Gstaad. A further three titles in 2016 made the Austrian the youngest member of the world’s top 10 by season’s end. Building on his impressive record with victory at Rio de Janeiro in 2017, Theim also solidified his Grand Slam credentials as he defeated Novak Djokovic en route to a second semifinal at Roland Garros.
Winner: Rio de Janeiro
Final: Barcelona, Madrid
SF: Roland Garros, Rome