After tasting defeat in three Grand Slam finals, Dominic Thiem finally won his maiden Major at the 2020 US Open. The Austrian was seeded second at Flushing Meadows and reached the final without any hiccups. He then overturned a two-set deficit against Alexander Zverev in the title match to lift the trophy.
Speaking about his triumph with GQ Magazine, the Austrian said he believes Grand Slams are given too much importance by the media and fans, and that Masters 1000, ATP 500, and ATP 250 events are often overlooked.
"I don't know what it was like 20 years ago, but since I've been playing pro, it's true that Grand Slam tournaments are very important," Thiem said. "But everyone knows, and we players first, how difficult it is to win a Masters 1000, a Masters, an ATP 500 or an ATP 250. So I believe that indeed, they are underestimated."
Thiem said he understands the hype surrounding a Major, but lamented the fact that not much value is given to other tour-level events, which are "very hard to win."
"Grand Slams have been there for years and years, there is a tradition around them, these are the four most important tournaments in the world," the 27-year-old said. "Many people who are not particularly tennis fans have become or can become so by watching these Grand Slam tournaments. It is so special. So I understand this craze but you also have to know how to appreciate the other tournaments which are very hard to win."
Dominic Thiem was forced to miss the US Open, where he was the defending champion, due to a wrist injury. The 27-year-old said he was extremely disappointed as he has fond memories of New York.
"Indeed, New York will always be special for me: I won my first Grand Slam title there. And I have always loved New York," he said. "Usually in the Grand Slams people are nice and these are the biggest tournaments for us in the season so we want to be there."
"I was sad not to do Wimbledon this year. I think this is the first that I missed for several years, maybe 26 or 27 in a row (26). I tried everything to play but I have to think about my health, about my wrist," Thiem added.
Even before sustaining the wrist injury, Thiem had struggled for consistency. The Austrian posted a win-loss record of 9-9, with his best finish being his semifinal run at the Madrid Masters.
The 27-year-old revealed that winning the US Open at the end of last year had taken a lot out of him both mentally and physically.
"This grand slam title took a lot from me. Not just during the two-week tournament in New York. I have worked most of my life to win a grand slam, and after I managed to do that, it was not easy to get back on the court," Dominic Thiem said.
"But there are also other reasons: I won the US Open playing without an audience which mentally asked a lot of me. It was the same just after at Roland Garros and the Masters. With the permanent bubble. And then a few little physical issues happened and now this wrist injury."
Thiem, however, is confident that he can bounce back strongly next season.
"It was a delicate period but I have a feeling that it will get better and that once the injury is behind me I could return to the highest level, as before. That's my goal," he added.
"They are some of the best athletes, not just tennis players, of all time" - Dominic Thiem on Big 3
During the course of the interview, Dominic Thiem also spoke about what it is like to play in the same era as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. The Austrian said he was happy to have shared the court with "some of the best athletes of all time."
"For me, it's a great time. These three players are some of the best athletes, not just tennis players, of all time," he said. "It's always a great time to play against them and have a chance to beat them."
Thiem has won 16 of his 34 matches against Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic. The Austrian admitted that playing against the Big 3 was always a "special experience." He also went on to heap praise on Nadal, Federer and Djokovic for their sustained dominance on the men's tour.
"I'm happy not to be in the same generation since I'm younger but to be able to play against them. I think I must have made 30 matches against them in all, it's always a special experience, with a few legendary matches," Thiem added. "I always find it amazing to see what they have been doing season after season, for 10 to 15 years."