It has been almost four weeks for clay season 2019 and the ‘King of Clay’, Rafael Nadal was trounced by Fabio Fognini and Dominic Thiem on the European clay events. Besides his consecutive clay court defeats, he has failed to add an ATP title to his name over the past eight months. Also, for the first time in 15 years, Rafael Nadal will be commencing the May month of the tennis season without a title in hand.
The NextGen clay courter, Dominic Thiem lifted up his second ATP title of the year, on Sunday in Barcelona. According to the Austrian player, Rafa’s clay court dominance is now under an intimidating remark. “As long as Rafa plays, he will always be the ultimate favourite in any clay tournament, but now there are bigger challenges for him than in the last years,” Dominic Thiem uttered.
“Zverev is always a threat, Djokovic is at his best again. And there are younger players like Auger-Aliassime, Stefanos Tsitsipas or Denis Shapovalov. There are a lot of challenges for Rafa. Comparing myself to Felix, Tsitsipas or Shapovalov, I was very bad at 18 years of age and they are already very good, they are on the top 10, top 20, top 30,” Dominic Thiem added.
He compared his 18-year-old self to the present 18-year-olds on the ATP table. He perceives them to be doing an expectational job than what he was doing back then. “When I joined the top 100, I was the second youngest player there. The situation has changed, it’s a normal evolution of tennis, there are very strong young guys and in the next four years there are 10-15 players who can get to the top of the rankings,” Dominic Thiem mentioned.
The Austrian foresees that men’s tennis has a bright future. At present, there are 15 young players on the top hundred roll of ATP which includes the players in their early twenties, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas who are occupying a spot on the top ten ATP index.