Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem met seven times between 2016 and 2019. The Austrian had an excellent record against one of his idols, although it did not start well for him. Thiem was only a kid when Federer became the world's leading player, dreaming about practicing and playing 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 for the first time in the 2016 Brisbane semi-final. Federer scored a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 victory in 61 minutes, dominating serve and return to leave the Austrian behind and advance into the title clash.
Thiem said that Federer "killed him on the court," winning 22 points more and taking half of the return points to sail into the final in no time. The Swiss got broken from the only chance offered to his opponent and controlled the pace with four return games.
Nothing could separate them in the most extended exchanges. Roger forged his victory in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, playing with aggression and precision and leaving the young gun with no answer. Thiem netted a forehand in the encounter's second game to experience an early break.
He fell 3-0 down after only eight minutes following Federer's service winner in game three. Dominic hit a double fault in the fourth game to send Roger further ahead before 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 gave serve away at the beginning of the second set thanks to another double fault. He pulled it straight away following a forehand down the line bullet that gave him confidence.
Both players served well until 3-3, and the younger player wished for more in the rest of the set. Instead, Federer moved in front with a break at 15 in game seven when Thiem netted a backhand. Roger cemented the lead with three winners in game eight and created a match point in the next one.
He sprayed a forehand error and allowed Thiem to bring it home and prolong the duel. The Swiss served for the victory at 5-4 and 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 or 8, he was becoming 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 unpleasant. 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.