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‘All Three of Them Can Be Pretty Cruel’ – Dominic Thiem Gives a Glimpse of His Unfiltered Side With a Cheeky Take on Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic

Published 11/14/2023, 2:51 PM EST

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Unlike most of the stars in the current ATP Tour, the Austrian tennis star Dominic Thiem is someone who has faced the Big 3 – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic – on the biggest stage. As such, he often faces a tricky question in interviews. In his exclusive chat with EssentiallySports, Thiem made sure to play a safe game rather than being upfront. He was asked several questions about the world of tennis. However, it was the questions about the Big 3 that showcased who the former US Open champion prefers to both team up and face on the court.

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When questions about the Big-3 of men’s tennis arrived, though Thiem tried his best, he couldn’t avoid sticking to his favorites. The 30-year-old mentioned who he thinks to be the strongest as of now, but still didn’t cross the lines of safety.

Dominic Thiem plays it safe when questioned about the Big 3


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Every swing and serve holds the weight of legacies and Thiem masterfully navigated the tricky terrain of diplomacy during the exclusive interview with EssentiallySports. The air was charged with anticipation as the Austrian star was probed about the perennial question: who among the Big 3 – Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal – posed the toughest challenge for him on the court?

As Thiem cautiously treaded the path of vigilance, he shared his insights. He hinted at the influence of surfaces on the dominance of each tennis titan. He said, “It’s like it’s surface related, you know Nadal on clay for sure, Djokovic on hard court, and Federer on grass. That’s a pretty easy answer.”


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Yet, this seemingly straightforward response concealed the depths of a more nuanced perspective. Noah, the voice in this tennis tête-à-tête, pressed Thiem to reveal more. The conversation unfolded as he, true to his diplomatic finesse, admitted: “That one is really true. It sounds very boring, but uh, this one is true.” As the host divulged fan sentiments, Thiem’s revelations took a turn beyond the court statistics. In his words: “Yeah, they never faced him so no, but uh, no, all three of them can be pretty cruel.”  

With a dash of candid humor, he threw the proverbial tennis ball back into the court of speculation. This left fans to ponder the diplomacy and truth amongst the rivalries. However, the subtlety of his words puts forth his profound understanding of each maestro’s prowess on their favored terrains.


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Thiem vs the Big-3

Dominic Thiem transcended this diplomatic dance he put on in the exclusive interview with EssentiallySports when facing the giants of the sport. His prowess extends beyond words when he confronted the Big 3 over the years and delivered captivating performances. Thiem’s match against Roger Federer in 2019 at the ATP World Tour Finals showcased his mettle, triumphing with straight sets of 7-5 7-5. The Swiss maestro, an icon in his own right, succumbed to Thiem’s strategic finesse on the court on more than one occasion. The Austrian holds an impressive 5-2 head-to-head record against the Swiss Maestro.

The Austrian’s prowess continued its ascent in 2020 as he faced both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the ATP World Tour Finals. Against Nadal, he displayed resilience, claiming victory with straight sets of 7-6(7) 7-6(4) in the group stage. The semifinal clash with Djokovic added another triumphant chapter to Thiem’s narrative. It culminated in a nail-biting encounter that saw him emerge victorious in three sets of 7-5, 6-7(10), 7-6(5). Unlike the Swiss Maestro, both Nadal and Djokovic hold a better head-to-head record against Thiem, standing at 9-6 and 7-5, respectively.


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Do you think the h2h record was in the back of Thiem’s mind when he gave his views on the Big 3? We may have to wait for another ES- Fancast episode with the Austrian marvel for the answer! What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments.

WATCH THIS STORY: Whopping $5 Million ATP Finals Announcement Might Just Tempt Novak Djokovic to Achieve Strenuous Feat in Turin

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Written by:

Charrvi Singh


One take at a time

“…to those who thought you were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it and now I’m burning so bright right now” – Coco Gauff, 2023 US Open. Ever since Naomi Osaka’s infamous withdrawal from the tennis circuit due to her deteriorating mental health in the 2021 French Open, I have been enamored by tennis stars and their psyche. With a background in psychology, I am interested in delving into the minds of the sport's biggest stars while keeping my readers informed about the latest in the tennis world, from on-court action to personal stories.
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Edited by:

Tony Thomas