Dominic Thiem had his most successful season in 2020, winning his first career Grand Slam at the US Open last September. The Austrian also reached the final at the Australian Open in January and the last act at the ATP Finals in London (where he surrendered in three sets to a wild Daniil Medvedev).
One gets the impression that the process of maturing the world number 3 is now over, and that the protégé of Nicolas Massu is now ready to oust Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic from the top of world tennis.
This feeling will have to be confirmed in 2021, considered by many to be a watershed season with a view to the future. Meanwhile, former Austrian midfielder Frank Schinkels believes his compatriot is now a role model for young people in these difficult times.
In a long article written on oe24, Schinkels - who defended the colors of the Austrian national team between 1992 and 1994 - expressed what Thiem represents for his country.
Schinkels on his countryman Dominic Thiem
"I used to want to be a famous footballer, now at 57 I want to be Dominic Thiem.
I'm going to work even more on my backhand. Much more important, however, is how Dominic motivates the many children and young people. This is priceless, especially in times like these," Frank Schinkels wrote. The 57-year-old also highlighted the sportsmanship qualities of Dominic Thiem, which have made him a favorite with not just the fans, but also among his peers.
"Even without a tournament victory at the ATP Finals, Dominic Thiem is a real role model," Schinkels said. "A real gentleman, that was Dominic in the final of the ATP Finals. As always, he was incredibly respectful of (Daniil) Medvedev.
He is friendly to every ball kid, he is almost embarrassed that they have to get the balls for him. Thiem is just the nicest guy on the tour. He doesn't have an enemy. Friendship only ends (when he is playing) on the court," he added.
Frank Schinkels claimed that Thiem's ability to defeat the likes of Djokovic and Nadal has given rise to the belief among his countrymen that he could become the next World No. 1. "Now we keep our fingers crossed for Thiem that he makes it to No.
1," Schinkels wrote. "That would actually be the next logical step. The more often he plays against the giants Djokovic and Nadal, the more we have the feeling that Thiem is the stronger (one). As an Austrian, I am proud that the big players, including Roger Federer, are throwing accolades on our star."