Dominic Thiem has always looked the player with the best shot from the upcoming generation to win a major and halt the Big Three Dominance. In 2020, he took it one step further and won his first major at the US Open.
Often referred to as the likely successor to Rafa Nadal on clay, Thiem’s record of late has shown him to be equally good on the red clay and the hard outdoor and indoor surfaces. The shortened 2020 season saw impressive and consistent levels reached by the Austrian and there is a lot to be expected from him in 2021.
A Promising Few Seasons
Austrian Dominic Thiem has been a regular member of the top ten of the ATP rankings for the last five years now. He first came to light on the slower clay surfaces and capped his successes with a first ever French Open semi-final appearance in 2016.
Since then, Thiem has been the most consistent player on the tour outside of the Big Three and gone from strength to strength on the clay with every passing year, being a two time runner-up to Rafa Nadal at the French Open, in 2018 and 2019.
Not only has Thiem done well on clay, he has continued to improve his game on the hard courts winning his first Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells in 2019 and being a runner-up at the ATP Tour Finals in both 2019 and 2020, as well as the Australian Open in 2020.
But, as the Austrian approached his mid-late 20’s and he continued to be one of the best never to win a major, some of the eyebrows began to raise and wonder if and when he would ever get that monkey off his back.
With an 8-3 record over the Big Three since the end of 2018, the Austrian remained the only one who was a regular challenge to them and even registered victories on an almost annual basis over Nadal on clay, a task which sounds and is almost insurmountable.
Piercing The Glass Ceiling in 2020
With Roger Federer out injured or most of 2020, Dominic Thiem continued to move up the ATP rankings and was a solid number three for most of the season. The year began well for Thiem who defeated Rafa Nadal and Alexander Zverev, en route the Australian Open final and let go of a two sets to one lead against Novak Djokovic to end as the runner-up there unfortunately.
It was a none too impressive return to the tour after the pandemic for Thiem, as he was eliminated early by Filip Krajinovic at the Western & Southern Open. But, a consistent showing at the US Open, aided a little by some big names missing saw Thiem come back from two sets down in the final against Alexander Zverev and finally pierce the glass ceiling to win his first ever major title.
The remainder of the season witnessed Thiem (running on empty after the US Open victory) lose a thrilling five setter to Diego Schwartzman in the French Open quarter-finals, and wrap up the season as the runner-up again at the Tour Finals in London, after defeating both Nadal and Djokovic en route the final.
What Does 2021 Hold for Thiem?
Although Thiem would have ideally liked to end the year with a title at the Tour Finals in London after all his efforts, he will be pleased with his performances overall in recent times.
With his first major now in the bag, the Austrian will have a different set of goals in 2021. While adding to his slam tally will be the key focus, he will also hope to move up in the ATP rankings and have his eye on the top two spots, as well as managing his schedule better to keep himself healthy and fresh for the key challenges throughout the season.
The world number three is yet to prove himself on the grass courts to be a force to reckon with at Wimbledon, but is among the top two players in the world today on clay and hard courts behind Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic respectively.
Defending his title at the US Open will surely be something he will hope to achieve, but in addition he remains among the favorites for the first two majors of the year and TWL believes he may very well add to his major tally at either of Melbourne or Paris.
TWL believes that Thiem, along with Djokovic remains the most likely players to win multiple grand slams in 2021, with Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal rounding off the list of key challengers for major titles this year.
Despite being successful at the Masters 1000 level, the Austrian is the holder of only one title at the moment and that is something he will also look to remediate in ’21, bearing in mind that the odds of winning on clay and hard courts remain just as good for him as it is for the best around.
2021 Predictions for Thiem
Dominic Thiem comes into 2021 with immense promise and expectations. Outside of grass, TWL expects him to be in with a shot at each of the other three majors.
Expect 2020 to see him add to his tally of Grand Slams, and Masters 1000s and become the first player to reach the top two in the ATP rankings outside of the Big Three and Andy Murray, since 2005.