Could Dominic Thiem vs Daniil Medvedev become the next big rivalry in men's tennis outside of the Big 3 of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic? The Russian, who beat Thiem 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 to win the Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday, certainly hopes so.
The encounter at the season-ending event marked the fifth meeting between the 27-year-old Dominic Thiem and the 24-year-old Daniil Medvedev. The two players had knocked out World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in their respective semifinals a day earlier, to set up a non-Big 3 final for the second year running (Dominic Thiem had lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the 2019 final).
The Austrian leads the head-to-head against Medvedev 3-2, with all of their matches coming over the past 26 months. And when asked whether he hopes to enjoy a long rivalry with Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev sounded bullish about the future.
"Hopefully," the Russian said. "We can only reflect on this when we are 35 and maybe we will have a head-to-head of 20-20. At this moment, as we both said at the (ATP Finals) ceremony, we really hope to be playing more great finals like this."
The US Open semifinal was also really close and went Dominic Thiem's way: Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev also recalled the pair's US Open semifinal in September this year, which Dominic Thiem won in three close sets 6-2, 7-6, 7-6. The Austrian went on to claim the first Grand Slam title of his career, and Medvedev expressed hope that he will get to play many more matches against Thiem on the biggest stages in tennis.
"For example, at the US Open, we played in the semifinals," Medvedev said. "The match was also really close and it went his way. He was better there and got his first Slam. So hopefully, we can have more matches on the big stages, hopefully with some crowds as well, against Dominic Thiem."
The pair have finished next to each other in the year-end rankings; Dominic Thiem is ranked No. 3, just 655 points ahead of the fourth-placed Medvedev. The Russian has retained a majority of his points from the 2019 season due to the new ATP ranking system being used during the pandemic.
Thus, it is almost certain that their match-ups in the coming months will take place only in the final stages of tournaments. A new and healthy rivalry could be brewing in men's tennis, which is certainly good news given that the Big 3 are getting close to retirement.