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Dominic Thiem's father talks about what it takes to beat Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic at Slams

Rafael Nadal (L) and Dominic Thiem (R)
Rafael Nadal (L) and Dominic Thiem (R)
Namit Kumar
Modified 01 Aug 2020, 03:13 IST

Over the last couple of years, Dominic Thiem has announced himself as the favorite to end the dominance of tennis' Big 3 - the trio of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

The Austrian has reached three Grand Slam finals over the last three years, beating members of the Big 3 each time. He also finished as the runner-up at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2019, bowing out to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Recently, in an interview with Polstat Sport, the World No. 3's father Wolfgang Thiem opened up about facing Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the big events, and how it takes a combination of experience and ability to overcome them.

Against Rafael Nadal, you need 100% concentration: Dominic Thiem's father

Dominic Thiem (L) and Rafael Nadal at French Open 2019
Dominic Thiem (L) and Rafael Nadal at French Open 2019

Dominic Thiem has faced Rafael Nadal in two consecutive French Open finals, losing both times. He also faced the Spaniard in an epic quarterfinal encounter at the US Open in 2018, which he lost 6-0 4-6 5-7 7-6 6-7.

Wolfgang reflected on those matches and explained how Nadal makes you pay if you let your focus waver even for a second.

"To beat Rafael, you have to be aware, and Dominic already has it, that you need to concentrate from the first ball," said Wolfgang. "He had to play a few games with Rafael to realize this. You probably remember how they played together at the US Open 2018 and Dominic lost the last set 6: 7. Even then, he was very close to winning. The meeting in Melbourne was also very close. Dominic might as well have lost this match."

Elaborating further on the US Open marathon, Dominic Thiem's father said:

"It was an unbelievable match. Dominic won the first set 6-0! It was a great example of how great athletes can lift themselves on competition."

The Austrian finally rose to the intense challenge posed by Rafael Nadal at the Slams when he defeated the 19-time Grand Slam champion at the Australian Open this year, with the score 7-6 7-6 4-6 7-6.

"Against Rafa, you have to be 100% concentrated, ready and showing full intensity. It's the only way to beat Nadal, especially on a clay surface," asserted Wolfgang Thiem.

It was a very balanced game: Wolfgang Thiem on his son's Australian Open final with Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic (L) and Dominic Thiem at Australian Open 2020
Novak Djokovic (L) and Dominic Thiem at Australian Open 2020

Wolfgang Thiem doesn't think his son can take Novak Djokovic lightly as an opponent either. At the Austraian Open this year Dominic Thiem defeated Nadal in the quarterfinals, only to be stopped by the World No. 1 in the final.

Despite defeating the Serb at the Nitto ATP Finals a few months prior, Thiem couldn't stay with Novak Djokovic down the home stretch in Melbourne. His father attributes that to the luck of the game, saying that on another day he might have won.

"It was a very balanced game. It was 2-1 in sets, then it was 2-1 in set 4, there were break points," said Dominic Thiem's father. "If Dominic had managed to break it, perhaps he would have won his first Grand Slam title."
"Sometimes you win tough matches, sometimes you lose. The most important thing, however, is to maintain the same high level all the time, which has been seen in the case of Dominic for several years."
Published 01 Aug 2020, 03:10 IST
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