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Boris Becker names best current player after Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal

  • Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer have ruled tennis lately, but Dominic Thiem may be catching up.
  • Boris Becker believes Dominic Thiem is the fourth-best player on tour at the moment.
Rupin Kale
FEATURED WRITER
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Modified 22 May 2020, 01:23 IST

Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have refused to slow down for over a decade now
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have refused to slow down for over a decade now

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have dominated elite tennis for over a decade now. The trio have won 56 Grand Slam titles combined, and apart from 2016, one of them has retained the No. 1 ranking at the end of every year since 2004.

With the three of them forging an unforgettable legacy in modern tennis, it has been difficult for anyone else in the current era to make a strong enough mark. While a few players have troubled the Big 3 occasionally, none of them have shown the consistency to truly break their hegemony.

But six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes there is, finally, a clear-cut fourth-best player on the block. The 52-year-old said that World No. 3 Dominic Thiem is currently the best player behind Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

"The best player behind the Old Gen is Dominic Thiem," Becker told Sky Sports. “He has the experience in Grand Slam finals. He played a very good match against Djokovic in the Australian Open final this January."

Becker also named a couple of other players from the younger generation, showering praise on Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev in particular.

"I enjoy watching Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev showed that he is very competitive at Grand Slam level at the Australian Open," Becker said.

However, the German later added that he would like to see the Next Gen step up before the Big 3 faded away due to age.

Dominic Thiem's recent numbers and performances against Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic ousted Thiem in the Australian Open 2020 final after five intense sets
Novak Djokovic ousted Thiem in the Australian Open 2020 final after five intense sets
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It's not without reason that Becker thinks of Dominic Thiem as the top challenger to the Big 3. Thiem has been one of the most consistent players on tour of late, which saw him rise to a career-best ranking of No. 3 in March.

The Austrian has made three Grand Slam finals in the last two years, coming up against Rafael Nadal twice at Roland Garros before running into Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

Thiem came painfully close to dethroning Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, taking the Serb to five sets. The World No. 1 managed to pull through after a grueling encounter, but not before Thiem showed that he is ready to win his first Major title.

The 26-year-old was disappointed to miss out on his maiden Slam, but said that he is keen to ride on his wave of good form.

“I feel great about the performance in Melbourne. It was a hell of a two weeks, beating three top 10 guys and then losing to Novak Djokovic 6-4 in the fifth,” Thiem had told ATPtour.com after the Australian Open final.
“Of course, it was a huge disappointment, but after some time to reflect, it was a great tournament and start to the season. I hope to keep that good form going,” he had added.

Dominic Thiem had a successful 2019 too, making the finals of Roland Garros and the year-end championships. He boasted of a win/loss record of 49-19 for the year, and also won the Indian Wells title - where he beat none other than Roger Federer in the final.

Thiem in fact has a great record against the Swiss maestro; he leads Roger Federer 5-2 in the head-to-head. That includes the straight-sets win he recorded at the ATP Finals, which was followed two days later by a thunderously powerful performance against Novak Djokovic

Thiem's improved performances outside clay gave him the impetus to start 2020 with a bang, and he ended up reaching his first Slam final on hardcourt.

“I improved my whole game a lot in the last year. My volleys, my serve, return, which are very important, especially for the faster surfaces,” Thiem told Tennis.com earlier this week. “With better results, indoors, toward the end of the season, my confidence grew bigger and bigger.”

Can Thiem be the one to dethrone the Big 3? Only time can tell for sure, but the signs have been promising so far in 2020.


Published 22 May 2020, 01:23 IST
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