Former Austrian tennis pro Alexander Antonitsch believes Dominic Thiem's ability to play his best tennis in the crunch moments has earned him the respect of everyone on tour. Antonitsch also claimed Thiem is one step ahead of his fellow rivals when it comes to chasing the Big 3.
At 27, Dominic Thiem has emerged as the most likely contender to end the reign of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the top of the world rankings. The Austrian put on a spectacular show at the recently concluded ATP Finals, where he beat Nadal and Djokovic by outplaying them at the most crucial stages.
"Everyone has respect for him, so that they sometimes make mistakes because they don't want to get hurt," Antonitsch said. "They know that he plays his best tennis on important points."
Dominic Thiem is one step ahead of the others: Alexander Antonitsch
Since Roger Federer first took over the World No. 1 spot in February 2004, one of him, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic has occupied the No. 1 spot for all but 41 weeks. Andy Murray managed to break that stranglehold in 2016-17, but even that stint was short-lived.
But Dominic Thiem has shown that he has the potential to change that. The Austrian won the US Open in September this year, becoming the only active player under 32 with a Major title under his belt.
The other young contenders on the ATP Tour - Stefanos Tsitispas, Daniil Medevdev and Alexander Zverev - are yet to make their Slam breakthrough.
Dominic Thiem had also made the final of the French Open in 2018 and 2019, falling short against Rafael Nadal both times. And this year, apart from his US Open win, Thiem reached the final of the Australian Open as well as the summit clash at the ATP Finals.
“Dominic Thiem is one step ahead of the others," Antonitsch said. "He is also a few years older and has already celebrated a Grand Slam title. There is a a difference whether I'm in an ATP final or winning a Grand Slam, where the best-of-five is played."
Antonitsch, who peaked at No. 40 in the world rankings and helped Austria reach the Davis Cup semifinals in 1990, also expressed confidence that Thiem's best is yet to come.
“Dominic's best time is just coming. With his team around Alex Stober, Mike Reinprecht and Nico Massu, he has made even better progress," Antonitsch added.