Former French tennis star Paul-Henri Mathieu gave a huge compliment to Dominic Thiem, saying he is poised to challenge the ‘Big Three’ monopoly in men’s tennis.
The Austrian got the better of 2nd-ranked Rafael Nadal and World Number 1 Novak Djokovic on the way to making the title round of the ATP Finals this year.
His maiden Grand Slam at the US Open this year was also a statement of intent.
His first Major title sent out a clear message to Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic that he had the game to challenge their supremacy with regard to Grand Slam titles.
The Frenchman said Thiem’s win at the Flushing Meadows gave him the confidence to take on top players and end up on the winning side.
Speaking to Eurosport, Mathieu said, “The fact of having won the US Open, it unlocked a lot of things for him. He has beaten regularly, in his last confrontations, the best.”
The Frenchman also cited Thiem’s recent track record against big players in general, and the ‘Big Three’ in particular, to rest his case.
Statistics bear out Mathieu’s claim as the Austrian won 80% of his matches against the ‘Big Three’ in 2019 and 2020.
The last two years saw Thiem narrow the head-to-head gap with Nadal to 5-9.
In further affirmation of his ability to challenge the ‘Big Three’, the Austrian holds a 5-2 win/loss record against Federer. His win over Djokovic at the ATP Finals this year also helped reduce his head-to-head deficit against the Serb to 4-7.
“He even has a positive ratio against them (‘Big Three’) in the last two years. And that does not deceive. His average level of play is really high,” Mathieu said.
The Frenchman said Thiem’s ever-improving record against the ‘Big Three’ has also made the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas believe they could close out wins against the ‘Big Three’.
“The fact that Thiem regularly beats Federer, Nadal and Djokovic gives more hope to those behind (him). They say to themselves, ‘Why not us?’ And that’s why others succeed. It’s not because the three monsters are less strong,” Mathieu said.
The thing that stood out in Thiem’s win over Nadal and Djokovic was that he wasn’t overawed by their stature in the men’s game and out-skilled them.
(All quotes have been translated)