Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem met seven times between 2016-2019, with the Austrian beating the legend five times. Thiem was only a kid when Federer became the world's leading player, and he dreamt about practicing and playing matches against one of the greatest players of all time.
"Borrowing" Roger's one-handed backhand, Dominic got a chance to share the court with his idol in the official match for the first time in the 2016 Brisbane semi-final. Federer claimed that one 6-1, 6-4 in 61 minutes, dominating serve and return to leave the Austrian behind and advance into the title clash.
Thiem said about that match that Federer "killed him on the court," winning 22 points more and taking half of the return points to sail into the final. The Swiss got broken from the only chance offered to his opponent and broke him four times to control the pace.
Nothing could separate them in the most extended exchanges, and Roger forged his victory in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, playing with aggression and precision that left the young gun with no answer. Thiem netted a forehand in the second game to experience an early break and fell 3-0 down after only eight minutes following Federer's service winner in game three.
In the fourth game, Dominic hit a double fault to send Roger further ahead, and the Swiss wrapped up the opener with a service winner in game seven after 22 minutes.
Roger Federer lost only five games against Dominic Thiem in their first match.
The Austrian handed his service game to his rival at the beginning of the second set thanks to another double fault before pulling the break back straight away following a forehand down the line bullet.
Both players served well until 3-3, and Federer moved in front with a break at 15 in game seven when Thiem netted a backhand. In game eight, Roger cemented the lead with three winners and created a match point in the next one, only to spray a forehand mistake error.
Serving for the victory at 5-4, the Swiss placed an ace to seal the deal and advance into the final. "Maybe playing-wise, Roger was the biggest inspiration because of the one-handed backhand. I tried to copy his style a bit, of course, and then when I started to watch tennis, when I was maybe 7-8 years old, he was becoming the No.
1. Roger was a great inspiration right from the start. Then I had this first practice with him, I was so nervous, and I think everybody could see that in the interview I gave after. One of the most significant moments was when we played our first match in Brisbane 2016; he killed me in that one, which was not pleasant.
Still, that's all part of my great journey with Roger, and it became even better when I beat him for the first time and in a notable final, like in Indian Wells," Dominic Thiem said.