Thiem came through (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)Dominic Thiem knows more than most on the ATP Tour just how tough it is to win a Grand Slam.
The ‘Prince of Clay’ reached his first major final at Roland Garros in 2018, where he fell to true tennis royalty in the form of Rafael Nadal.
It’s been a step-by-step process for the Austrian in Paris. A year earlier he fell to Nadal in the semi-finals after defeating Novak Djokovic, while he fell to the Serb in the final four a year earlier.
This year, he’s made no secret of his ambition to go one further. But the world No. 4 pointed to the biggest challenge for any player outside the ‘Big Three’ at a Grand Slam event.
‘It’s a very long way to win a Grand Slam,’ Thiem said after his first round win over Tommy Paul. ‘That’s what I experienced last year here.
Thiem was beaten by Nadal in the French Open final (Picture: Corbis via Getty Images)‘The tough thing is that we young players, to win a Grand Slam, probably we have to beat two of these guys who won 15 or more Grand Slams.
‘And, yeah, that alone says that it’s very, very tough.’
Thiem was pushed hard in his opening match against the USA’s Tommy Paul on Monday.
‘Yeah, it was definitely difficult, but I didn’t expect at all an easy match,’ he said of the 6-4 4-6 7-6 6-2 win.
‘I mean, I wasn’t playing my best today, that’s for sure. But, I mean, we all could see what happens if I don’t play my best tennis.
‘He was playing amazing then. It was very, very close. And of course the key moment of the match was the tiebreak in the third set.
‘He made it very tough for me out there. The most positive thing I am taking from the match today is the fourth set, because I freed myself. I played way faster, way tougher for him. I moved him around way more. That’s what I tried to build up on this fourth set.’