Will Thiem Continue Major Success In 2021?
Austrian claimed an unrivalled 17 Grand Slam match wins in 2020
When Dominic Thiem arrived at the 2020 Australian Open, he was aiming to end a streak of three consecutive Grand Slam losses. Following his run to his second straight Roland Garros final in 2019 (l. to Nadal), the Austrian fell in the first round at both Wimbledon (l. to Querrey) and the US Open (l. to Fabbiano) to end the year with a 7-4 record at Grand Slam events.
In contrast to Thiem’s struggles for consistency at major championships in 2019, the Austrian claimed five titles on the ATP Tour and finished as the runner-up at the Nitto ATP Finals to end the season at No. 4 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The missing ingredient to a higher position was clear: Grand Slam success.
Last year, Thiem managed to achieve just that. The 17-time tour-level titlist claimed his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open and, according to the Infosys ATP Performance Zone, he also finished above his biggest rivals with the most wins of any player at the major championships in 2020.
2020 Grand Slam Wins Leaderboard
|T4||Pablo Carreno Busta||11|
Prior to 2020, Thiem had only once reached the quarter-finals at multiple Grand Slam events in the same year (2018). The 27-year-old not only advanced to the last eight at all three major championships in 2020, he also reached two finals.
Alongside his consistent performances at Grand Slam events, Thiem’s continued success on the ATP Tour in 2020 helped him to achieve a breakthrough in the FedEx ATP Rankings. For the first time, he ended the year as World No. 3, just 725 points behind World No. 2 Rafael Nadal. The last player outside the Big Four of Roger Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to break into the Top 2 was Lleyton Hewitt in July 2005.
One of the major questions for the 2021 season will be whether Thiem can break into the Top 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Perhaps the most crucial factor in that mission will be his ability to maintain the form he showed in 2020 at Grand Slam events. The Austrian is already off to a good start at this year's Australian Open, where he beat Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets in the first round. Thiem next faces German Dominik Koepfer.
If he can navigate his way through the first week at Melbourne Park, Thiem will have recent history on his side. Since the start of the 2019 season, Thiem has earned nine wins from 12 matches against Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. Since Federer won his maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, the Big 3 has combined to win 57 of the past 69 Grand Slam events.
Dominic Thiem: ATP Head2Head Records Against Big Three
|Opponent||Before 2019||Since 2019|
For the past two seasons, Thiem has proven he has the game to beat the best. If he can continue to improve in 2021 and maintain the level he showed last year at Grand Slam events, he may also have the formula to become the best.