The big 4 of the ATP, Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Nadal, are still at the top. But a newer crop is slowly arising to challenge the Big 4. One of them being, Dominic Thiem; the 22 year old Austrian, who has been moving up steadily. He recently beat Federer on grass at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart in the semifinal and went onto win the title. Let us look at the rising star and his latest slate of achievements.
Thiem had held the no. 2 ranking in the ITF juniors and he had also won the Dunlop Orange Bowl.
In 2013, Thiem after received a wild card to the main draw in the 2013 Bet-at-home Cup Kitzbühel, made it through to the quarterfinals but lost to Albert Montañés in straight sets. Again with a wildcard, he reached his second quarterfinal of the year of an ATP 250 event at the 2013 Erste Bank Open. But he lost to the top seed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in three tough sets.
In Australian Open 2014, Thiem swept his way into three qualifying rounds, beating Martin Klizan, the second seed and won a spot in the mail draw.
He was seeded sixth in the qualifying rounds of the 2014 BNP Paribas Open and he went through to the main draw. He beat the American qualifier Daniel Kosakowski in the first round of the 1000 Masters series tournament. He also beat Gilles Simon, the 21st seed and former world no. 6 in straight sets. But he lost to Julien Benneteau in the next round.
He was seeded fifth at the 2014 Bet-at-home Cup Kitzbühel, where he defeated the defending champion and second seeded Marcel Granollers in straight sets. He went onto to beat Juan Monaco to reach his first ATP World Tour Top 250 final at the age of 20, but lost to David Goffin despite being a set up.
Competing in his first ever US Open in 2014, Thiem reached the fourth round after two first round defeats in both Toronto and Cincinnati Masters.
In 2015, Thiem won his first career ATP World Tour title in Nice, France, defeating Nick Kyrgios, Ernests Gulbis and John Isner en route before winning a close three-setter against Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer in the final.
With wins over Dušan Lajović and compatriot Andreas Haider-Maurer (after both players retired) at the 2015 Croatia Open, Thiem advanced to the semifinals, where he came back from a set down to win against Gaël Monfils and to reach his third career final. In the final, he defeated Portugal’s João Sousa in straight sets to claim his second career ATP World Tour title.
A week later, Thiem won his third title at the 2015 Swiss Open Gstaad, beating David Goffin in the final, and winning back to back tournaments for the first time. As a result of these tournament wins, Thiem achieved a new career high ATP ranking of world No. 21.
Thiem next played at his home tournament, the 2015 Generali Open Kitzbühel as the No. 1 seed; marking the first time he entered an ATP tournament as the top seeded player.
In the semifinals, he could not reach his third consecutive final when he lost to German Philipp Kohlschreiber in two sets, ending his winning streak of 10 matches. After the tournament ended, Thiem entered the top 20 for the first time, reaching a new career high of world No. 18.
2016 is proving to be the most successful year for Thiem so far, winning 4 titles on all three surfaces:
1) Argentina Open : Thiem went on to win his fourth ATP title and first of the season by defeating Nicolás Almagro in three sets in finals of Argentina Open. There, he upset defending champion Rafael Nadal in three sets after saving another match point
He attained a career-high ranking of 15 on 22 February 2016, and was named the ATP’s “Mover of the Week”.
2) In February, Thiem won the Mexican Open in Acapulco, his first hard court title; the four others being on clay. He defeated Damir Džumhur, Dmitry Tursunov, Grigor Dimitrov, Sam Querrey and Bernard Tomic en route. This was his first ATP 500 title and second crown in the space of three weeks.
With this win, Thiem once again attained a career-high ranking, this time of 14 on 29 February. He also rose to No. 3 in the Race to London.
In early March, Thiem was a part of the Austrian Davis Cup team and they played the Group I first round tie versus Portugal on indoor hard courts. In singles, he defeated familiar foe Gastão Elias in a fifth set tiebreak.
He reached another milestone ranking, becoming the world number 13 on 7 March.
He then competed in the Italian Open defeating Roger Federer in second round; his 2nd high profile triumph after Rafael Nadal.
3) In Nice, Thiem successfully defended his title on clay, beating Alexander Zverev, and having not lost a set until the final.
At the French Open, Thiem reached the semi-finals of a major for the first time by defeating David Goffin in the quarter-finals. He lost to No. 1 and eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semis. By reaching this semifinal he also made his debut inside the Top 10 of ATP Rankings.
4) Stuggart Open : He reached the semifinal of a grass tournament for the first time after coming from a set down against Then he defeated 1st seed Roger Federer for the second time in a row coming from two match points down; making it his 3rd high profile triumph. In the final, he defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber in three sets over the course of two days to win his first ever grass court tournament.
As of 6th June 2016, he has risen to a career high of no. 6 in ATP rankings.
With this win he became only the ninth active player – and 29th in Open Era history (since May 1968) – to win three titles on three different surfaces in the same year.
Thiem is primarily an aggressive baseliner who has the ability to defend as well. His groundstrokes are solid on both wings, with a heavy forehand and a tenacious, powerful single-handed backhand. Thiem also possesses a strong serve, capable of reaching 145 mph (233 km/h).
Thiem has surged up fast and in a convincing way. He has already beaten Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on their respective favorite surfaces, where they have been mostly unbeatable. The road ahead may still be a long one for him to reach the top level, but if he keeps on playing like he is playing now, he definitely will be a force to be reckoned with.
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