MELBOURNE, Feb 2 — Dominic Thiem said there are only “small details” between himself and tennis’s Big Three and he’s convinced a breakthrough is imminent after losing the Australian Open final Sunday to Novak Djokovic.
The courageous Austrian enjoyed his best ever tournament at Melbourne Park, taking down four seeds, including Rafael Nadal, to reach the decider.
He looked on track for a maiden Grand Slam title after going two sets to one in front, but the experienced Serbian star staged a gutsy comeback to leave him empty-handed once again after losing the last two French Open finals to Nadal.
Despite this, the 26-year-old was encouraged at how close he and others, notably Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev, now are to challenging the all-conquering Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer.
“I think it’s only small details. In the last two finals — US Open and here — it was really close. It could have gone either way for Daniil in US Open (against Nadal) and for me here,” he said, referring to Medvedev’s five-setter with Nadal at Flushing Meadows.
“It takes nothing more than just little bit of luck, little details here and there.”
“Maybe if I converted the break point in the fourth set, maybe I’m sitting here as a winner. It just takes hard work,” he added.
“Me and also the other young players have definitely the potential to win a Slam.”
Thiem came into his first final at Melbourne Park a much improved hardcourt player from 12 months ago and is now rightly regarded as one of the most dangerous on tour.
He is supremely fit and regarded as one of the fastest movers on court, with a one-handed backhand that generates heavy spin and a power-packed forehand.
While the slower clay has always been his preferred surface, beating Federer in the Indian Wells final last year was a turning point for the Austrian on hardcourts.
He said he had taken a lot from the Australian Open.
“I didn’t have easy matches, especially from the quarters on. Beating Rafa in over four hours (in the last eight), then two days later going back out again against Sascha (Zverev),” he said.
“Unbelievably intense, close match. Then two days later going out again against Novak, who won the most titles here and again played on a very high level.
“I’m very aware and sure now that I can play on a very high level for a full Grand Slam ... it makes me very confident for the next big tournaments which are coming up.” — AFP