Thomas Muster: 'Dominic Thiem is already better than I ever was'


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Thomas Muster: 'Dominic Thiem is already better than I ever was'

Former world no. 1 and one of the best clay-courters in the Open era, Thomas Muster scored more than 400 ATP wins on the slowest surface, winning 40 titles from 45 finals, six Masters 1000 titles and Roland Garros crown in 1995.

Back in 1989, his career was almost over when a drunk driver hit him with a car in Miami, suffering severe left knee injuries and working on his comeback almost instantly to earn the ATP Tour Comeback Player of the Year award in 1990.

After that, Muster established himself as one of the greatest players on clay during the 90s, conquering 111 out of 116 matches on the beloved dirt in 1995 and 1996 before starting to lose the edge in the next couple of years and retiring in 1999 before that swift comeback in 2010 and 2011.

The famous Austrian was in Paris on Sunday, watching and supporting a compatriot Dominic Thiem in his quest towards the first Grand Slam title against Rafael Nadal. Just like in 2018, Thiem couldn't find the way to overpower the Spaniard, losing in four sets to collect the second runner-up trophy in Paris in two years, playing on a very high level throughout the event and establishing himself as one of the main title favorites in the years to come.

Praising the game of his younger compatriot, Muster said Thiem's game is already on a higher level in comparison to his, predicting him a great future if he continues to work hard as he did in the last couple of years.

Always a dedicated and humble competitor, Dominic lacked the finishing touches that would have made a complete player, winning only one title between June 2016 and February 2018 and celebrating mostly at smaller events before changing all that this March in Miami.

Outside his best surface, the Austrian took down Roger Federer in the final for a career-great result at Masters 1000 series, already reaching the first Grand Slam final a year ago in Paris and repeating that last weekend after a thrilling win over Novak Djokovic in five sets.

Thiem had to play for three straight days to oust Karen Khachanov and Djokovic, setting the final clash with Rafael Nadal and not being able to show his best after competing for the fourth consecutive day and losing steam in sets three and four to hand the trophy to Nadal.

Working with Nicolas Massu, Dominic has made some visible improvements to shape up his game and win Barcelona before another tremendous result in Paris, taming his shots more efficiently than before and turning himself into one of the best players on the Tour in terms of physical strength.

That element has helped him to pass some tough challenges and book the place in the second Roland Garros final, entering the semis as the player who committed the fewest number of unforced errors and becoming the first player who scored a win over Novak Djokovic at Slams since Marco Cecchinato at Roland Garros a year ago.

Thus, Dominic ruined "Nole Slam" and battled on the same level with Rafa for almost two hours before starting to fade away from the court, unable to keep that pace after taking the second set. One thing is sure, after four straight semi-finals and two title match appearances in Paris, Thiem should be the one to beat there if Rafael Nadal's dominance ever stops, having enough time to collect multiple Roland Garros crowns and prove kind words of his predecessor Thomas Muster who ruled the clay-courts 15 years ago or so.