Dominic Thiem Reveals He Would Love to Be in Rafael Nadal’s Shoes for a Day

Published 03/19/2021, 7:00 AM EDT
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 22: Dominic Thiem of Austria celebrates during his match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Day 8 of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena on November 22, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)


With his maiden Grand Slam title at last year’s US Open and the defeat of the mighty Roger Federer in the final of the prestigious Indian Wells Masters the year prior, Austrian tennis star Dominic Thiem has carved a niche for himself in the men’s game.

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A run to the title round of the season-ending ATP Finals last year helped him further entrench his status as an emerging superstar who is poised to break the ‘Big Three’ monopoly, especially in Grand Slams.

Dominic Thiem currently trails Rafael Nadal 6-9 in 15 head-to-head battles

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Given where his career is at, one wouldn’t expect the Austrian to trade places with someone else on Tour or be in the shoes of a bigger star.

However, it turns out that if the current World Number 4 could catch a shooting star in a clear night sky and make a wish, it would be to swap bodies with Rafael Nadal.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Austria’s Dominic Thiem in action during his third round match against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

Put in the spot during a fun Q&A ahead of the ongoing Dubai Open, Thiem was asked if he could be another player for a day, who he would pick. After a pause, the 27-year-old said, “Rafa”.

The Austrian shares a healthy on-court rivalry with the 20-time Grand Slam champion and they have been involved in some absorbing battles, especially on the clay at Roland-Garros.

While Thiem is yet to lift the French Open title, he came within a match of doing so in two successive years – 2018 and 2019. However, in both the finals, the Austrian lost to Nadal.

Their head-to-head record in 15 meetings currently reads 9-6 in favor of the Spaniard, and it is this deficit that the World Number 4 wants to narrow at this year’s French Open.

Beating Nadal at French Open is Thiem’s primary target this year

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Thiem said in a recent statement that beating the ‘King of Clay’ on his favorite surface in Paris is his primary goal this season.

While it didn’t happen in two attempts, he wants to be third-time lucky this time.

However, his current run of form could make the task of loosening Nadal’s hold on the French Open trophy tougher than it already is.

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Thiem crashed out in the fourth round of this year’s Australian Open and his Tour campaigns in Doha and Dubai were also marked by early exits, raising questions on his form going into upcoming battles.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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