Thiem looks to use Dubai event as stepping stone for French Open

Dominic Thiem hopes to do well in Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. — Twitter
Dominic Thiem hopes to do well in Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. — Twitter

Dubai - Thiem knows he needs to play the perfect clay court tennis to beat Nadal in Paris

By Liaqat Ali

Published: Sun 14 Mar 2021, 8:45 PM

Last updated: Sun 14 Mar 2021, 8:58 PM

US Open champion Dominic Thiem believes he is on the right track to challenge the Big Three in tennis.

The 27-year-old Austrian also feels a good run at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this week could be a stepping stone to French Open success as he looks to win his first title at the Roland Garros, having lost two finals (2018, 2019) to Rafael Nadal.

Nadal’s unmatched dominance on the Paris clay courts saw him clinch his 13th French Open title as he matched Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

Thiem knows he needs to play the perfect clay court tennis to beat Nadal in Paris.

“It is one of the most difficult tasks to beat Nadal at Roland Garros. This only way is to improve all aspects of your game and play the perfect clay court tennis. Even then, it’s not in my hands, it’s in his hands and I can only hope that he is not having his best day and I have the perfect day to have a chance against him there,” said Thiem before revealing that becoming the number one player in the world is not his big goal at the moment.

“I try to improve my game and the number one (ranking) is not my ultimate goal. I want to give my 100 per cent and rest will be taken care of,” the world number four said.

While the 39-year-old Federer finally returned to competitive tennis last week in Qatar following two knee surgeries, Novak Djokovic, who won his 18th Slam at the Australian Open last month, and Nadal are still maintaining their stranglehold on the big events.

And the likes of Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, who lost the Australian Open final last month in straight sets to Djokovic, and Alexander Zverev, need to raise their level if they hope to bring an end to the dominance of the Big Three.

“It is a reality and nobody can deny that Big Three have ruled the tennis world. It is unique that players like Roger Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic are playing at the same time,” said Thiem.

“It is a big challenge for emerging players to counter them. I think we are on the right track and tournaments like Dubai provide us perfect platform to get ready for bigger challenges. We need to remain focused and improve our game to achieve the goal,” said Thiem.

Thiem’s only success at the Grand Slam came at the 2020 US Open where Djokovic was disqualified from the tournament after the Serb accidently hit a line judge with the ball during his fourth round match.

The extraordinary incident ended Djokovic’s run of 29 straight wins and paved the way for Thiem to clinch his maiden Slam at a tournament Nadal had decided to skip due to health concerns amid a raging pandemic.

“Nobody knows if I would have won it. But, well, I have the title, that’s all what counts,” said Thiem when asked if he would have won the US Open if Djokovic incident had not happened and if Nadal had played.

“Of course, the Big Three are Big Three, but there is just no need to think about it because my name is there on the trophy and it always will be, so it doesn’t really matter who I beat or who was there or who was not there,” added Thiem who lost to Roberto Bautista Agut in the Qatar Open quarterfinal last week.

More news from Tennis