Dominic Thiem is no fool, and he changes his mind about the Olympics. It was April 2019 when he signed the two-year agreement with the Kitzbühel tournament, thus giving up Tokyo 2020, scheduled to coincide with the Austrian ATP 250.
"Tokyo is a wonderful city, but I prefer to spend a whole week (hopefully) in Kitzbühel" declared Domi at the time, with the hope that she would later turn into reality by getting her hands on the Tyrolean trophy in the following August.
The value attached to the Games tennis tournament is not the same for everyone and the position of the then-fresh Indian Wells winner was quite clear. Former French player Mathieu believes Dominic Thiem is helping to narrow the gap between the Big 3 (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) and the rest of the field.
Dominic Thiem has won 9 of 12 matches against the Big 3 since the start of 2019.
Mathieu on Dominic Thiem's new status
According to Paul-Henri Mathieu, Dominic Thiem's series of big wins have bolstered the hopes of the other players, who now take the court against the Big 3 with a much more confident mindset.
"The fact that Dominic Thiem regularly beats Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic gives more hope to those behind. They say to themselves: 'Why not us?' And that's why others succeed. It's not because the three legends are less strong," Mathieu said.
"When these young people come back on the court, they don't start beaten at all. It's really 50-50 in their head, which was not the case 3-4 years ago. The approach to the match is completely different," he added.
"The gap is narrowing. And the fact of regularly facing Djoko, Rafa and Roger, it allows Dominic Thiem, Medvedev and others, to raise their level of play," the Frenchman said. Mathieu believes Thiem has taken his game to another level since his triumph in New York, as was evident in his spectacular performances at this year's ATP Finals where he again reached the title match.
"The fact of having won the US Open, it unlocked a lot of things for him," Mathieu said. "He has regularly beaten the best in his recent encounters. He even has a positive record against them in the last two years.
And that does not lie. His average level of play is really high." The upcoming season is going to be full of surprises and excitement. Players like Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev have stepped up their game since the last time Federer stepped on the court. With the Australian Open certain to take place in February, it’ll be interesting to see how the Swiss performs.