Finally we can say it: Dominic Thiem is ready to take on the role of the super star, and take the baton, at least on clay courts, by Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard will certainly have something to say about it, and he will do anything to not abdicate his throne at the French Open.
Also at the French Open Nadal will start as a man to beat, but Thiem will be only a few inches behind. The Austrian is the man who can dominate on clay courts in the coming years. Next tournaments could certify this. Dominate, of course, but do not emulate Nadal's successes.
That will be difficult for anyone, for the next hundred years! Gradually, in recent years, Thiem has taken all the decisive steps to reach the 2019 clay season ready, competitive and with a very high level of athletic and psychological shape.
And we have to consider that his season has experienced only two peaks, but of superior quality. We are obviously talking about the victory at Indian Wells against Roger Federer, the first ATP Masters 1000 career, and the victory in Barcelona against Daniil Medvedev.
He did not shine at the Australian Open, Miami and Monte Carlo. With 13 titles in 20 finals played (titles won on all game surfaces), now is the time for him to assess his status. Moreover, at 25, Thiem also needs a rival of his generation to be able to pursue a credible rivalry that would ignite the crowd, fans and insiders.
It is almost impossible to reach the successes of this age's rivalries, like Federer-Nadal or Nadal-Djokovic, but also the same Djokovic-Murray. The most accredited rivals for Thiem, in the coming years could be Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. In these weeks, the foundations are laid for the present and for the future, in short.