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Dominic Thiem says his first few encounters against Big 3 were "really difficult", adds that he now approaches them like any other match

Dominic Thiem at the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open - Day Six
Dominic Thiem at the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open - Day Six
Rohan Pai
CONTRIBUTOR

Dominic Thiem is gearing up to return to the court in just over a month, at the Abu Dhabi exhibition. Thiem has also cleared the air about rumors surrounding his vaccination status through a strong statement on social media.

Recently, the Austrian appeared on Einfach mal Luppen, a podcast hosted by Real Madrid FC midfielder Toni Kroos and his brother Felix Kroos. Thiem discussed a variety of subjects during the podcast, including the challenge of playing in the same era as the Big 3.

In a candid exchange with the brothers, Dominic Thiem revealed it was initially not easy playing Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - the three players he grew up admiring on TV.

"The first matches against the big names (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic) were really, really difficult," Thiem said. "Because you know them from TV, you practically adore them and want to go where they are and then it doesn't take that long and suddenly you're facing them."

Elaborating further on the pressure of playing against the Big 3, the Austrian claimed that the reputation they have built for themselves over the years is difficult to overcome.

"You not only have to defeat them in terms of game, but also defeat their legendary status," Thiem added.

Over time, however, the 28-year-old began to approach matches against the Big 3 like any other match. Thiem remarked that he now "doesn't really care" who he takes on, since he has enough experience of playing against the best.

"The more matches you play against the legends, the more normal it becomes," the Austrian said. "After a certain time, I went into it like any other match, with the sole aim of winning. And then I didn't really care who was on the other side."

"At least half of the tennis fans are fans of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic" - Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem at the 2014 BNP Paribas Masters - Day One
Dominic Thiem at the 2014 BNP Paribas Masters - Day One

Dominic Thiem was also asked for this thoughts about the future of tennis, and whether he feels the sport will lose some of its sheen after the retirement of the Big 3. In response, the 28-year-old stressed on the importance of the next generation need to "follow in their footsteps" and carry their legacy forward.

"At least half of the tennis fans are fans of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic," Thiem said. "We [must] play well and follow in their footsteps so that the people who are now mainly [watching] because of the three, follow the sport and stick with it."
"We are on the right track with players like Tsitsipas, Zverev and Medvedev who are also at the forefront of the Grand Slams," Thiem added.

Asked about the upcoming youngsters to watch for, Dominic Thiem was quick to name Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz - two players have performed exceptionally on the tour this season.

"Sinner pushed me out of the top 10 and Alcaraz will be there sooner or later," Thiem said. "And I think these are the two who are the very best [at the moment]."

Edited by Sanjay Rajan
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