Many believe Dominic Thiem is one of the big favourites for the French Open this year, especially given the fact that he broke through to win his first Grand Slam title in New York last month. But one person who has a great insight into what Dominic Thiem himself thinks about his chances in Paris is Chile's Nicolas Massu, the former top 10 player who has been working with the Austrian since last year.
Dominic Thiem has had a tricky draw at Roland Garros. But he is through to the fourth round in one piece, after wins over former US Open champion Marin Cilic, former top 10 player Jack Sock, rising Norwegian Casper Ruud and French wildcard Hugo Gaston.
Massu is happy with the way Dominic Thiem has played through his first four matches given the changed calendar and US Open run.
"We must bear in mind that the calendar has been intense, that after the US Open there was no time to adapt," Massu said. "For Dominic, this is the first tournament on clay. You have to recover your physique and arrive well motivated."
The Chilean talked in particular about how difficult Dominic Thiem's draw has been, and how the match against Gaston changed in complexion because of a few missed opportunities.
"Then he had a tough draw, but he has handled it well, with three wins in three games, and that shows the level he's playing," Massu said. "He also had many options to win it (against Hugo Gaston) in three sets. In the third set, he had several chances, points that he normally wins. And if he had scored them we would be talking about a quick victory."
"The third and fourth sets were not played the same as in the others, but you cannot always expect everything to turn out the way you want," the Chilean added. "When one begins to err more than usual it is because something is happening, but he has the ability to turn it around. In the fifth set, he made a difference again. Sometimes one point changes the game."
Time will tell how many tournaments Dominic Thiem will win: Nicolas Massu
Massu went on to mention that while winning the US Open was the fulfilment of a life-long dream for Dominic Thiem, the Austrian was not satisfied with that and was determined to continue working just as hard to win more Slams.
"It has barely been three or four weeks, I have been with him for a year and a half and I see that he is the same person, the same player who does the same things and who has the same desire to continue working," Massu said.
"The year did not end with the US Open, he is not satisfied with that. That gives him an important endorsement, any player dreams of winning a tournament like that. It gives him the peace of mind of having one of the goals he had since he was a child, but he wants to keep growing and winning important tournaments," he added.
Dominic Thiem's breakthrough Grand Slam is widely seen as an affirmation that the Austrian is well-positioned to take his place alongside the Big 3 in men's tennis and perhaps overtake them. Massu reinforced that point by mentioning how his ward has already beaten Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at different tournaments, and that he is on course to win many more big titles.
"In Indian Wells, he beat Federer, in London he beat Djokovic, in Australia, he defeated Nadal. They have an age difference. People wonder when the handover will come. But that is not known. It will happen when it happens," Massu said.
"Everyone thought that his first Grand Slam would be here (in Paris) and he has won it in the United States. And in Australia, he was about to do it. Time will tell how many tournaments he will win and when he will dethrone the others. He has been showing that he is rising, he is No. 3 in the world, he has reached three Grand Slam finals of the last four, I think the answer is quite clear," he added.Published 06 Oct 2020, 13:58 IST