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"I’m already a bit scared thinking of our next matches" - Dominic Thiem on why Alexander Zverev is his toughest opponent outside Big 3

Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem
Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem
ANALYST
Modified 11 Nov 2020, 16:43 IST
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Dominic Thiem boasts of a commanding 8-2 head-to-head lead over Alexander ‘Sascha’ Zverev. However, that didn’t stop him from picking the German as his toughest opponent outside of the ‘Big 3’ of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

In a recent interview with Sky Germany, Thiem explained his rationale behind picking Zverev, while also giving his opinion on the favorites for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals.

Viewers of Thiem's video interview were permitted to ask one question to the Austrian. And the one that was picked asked Dominic Thiem to name his toughest opponent outside Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

The newly-crowned ‘Austrian Sportsman of the Year’ praised the question before picking Sascha Zverev as his choice. Thiem recalled that he had given a similar answer after the US Open final because their specific playing styles made it difficult to find a way against each other.

“That's a really good question,” Thiem said. “For me, personally, Sascha is the toughest opponent to play besides the Big 3. I already said it after the US Open, both our games make things difficult for the other one.”
Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem gave special emphasis to Zverev’s serve and return - two shots that can cause problems for anyone on tour even on a bad day. The World No. 3 asserted that it is never easy to strategize against Alexander Zverev.

“For me, it's tough to play against him because he serves and returns so well, because I always have trouble finding a good tactical plan against him,” Thiem continued.

That said, Dominic Thiem has managed to beat the German with almost unfailing regularity in recent times. The 27-year-old is on a four-match winning streak against Alexander Zverev, which includes his famous comeback in the 2020 US Open final.

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Thiem also won their matches at the 2020 Australian Open, the 2019 ATP Finals and the 2018 French Open.

You'd be forgiven for assuming that Thiem’s fear of playing Zverev has been alleviated to some extent. But that is not the case for the Austrian, who admitted to being ‘scared’ of their future fixtures.

“That’s why he is the toughest opponent, even though the last matches have gone my way,” Thiem explained. “I’m already a bit scared thinking of our next matches, but I’m looking forward to it of course.”

Dominic Thiem picks his favorites for the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals

Dominic Thiem lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals
Dominic Thiem lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals

With the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals just days away, Dominic Thiem assessed the chances of some of his competitors. Thiem believes that Daniil Medvedev stands a good chance in London given the Russian’s recent resurgence, which saw him win the Paris Masters.

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The Austrian expressed his admiration for the way Medvedev effortlessly closed out the final against Zverev.

“In Paris, Medvedev has made his way up on the list of favorites for London,” Thiem remarked. “I watched the final, he played incredible in the end, made no mistakes." 
Dominic Thiem believes that Andrey Rublev is a player to watch out for
Dominic Thiem believes that Andrey Rublev is a player to watch out for

Needless to say, the names of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic came up as the ‘top favorites’. However, Dominic Thiem gave special emphasis to Andrey Rublev, noting his scintillating form all year - and especially following the resumption of the tour.

“But I would say besides Nadal and Djokovic, who are always the top favorites, Rublev is an extremely good candidate,” Thiem said. “He’s been in top form all year round and since we’ve resumed the tour after the corona break, he’s been even better.”
Published 11 Nov 2020, 15:22 IST
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