He is so new that we ended up forgetting that he was no longer the little youngster on duty. This is the whole paradox of Dominic Thiem, just 27 years old and finally crowned in a Grand Slam after an eternity spent in the shadow of the infernal trio Djokovic-Nadal-Federer. A little reminder before the opening of the last Major of the season: since Flushing 2016, no one outside this “Big Three” had won Grand Slam tournaments. Since Marin Cilic’s surprise at the 2014 US Open, no new name has filled the grimoires of tennis. Thiem’s accomplishment, after a personal quest made of sacrifices and extraordinary work, after this final as improbable as it is unforgettable, is already marking its time.
But what’s next? At 27 years and 10 days old, Thiem became the 6th oldest player to lift a first Major in the Open era. Not very young but not yet old. In his age group, some have used this first coronation as a catalyst, a particle accelerator. For others, it will have remained like the accomplishment of a lifetime. Typology of examples to follow for the Austrian. Or not.
Examples to follow: Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka
Hard to do newer and more relevant than Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. The two men will inevitably serve as a model for the Austrian. Because they too have long bit the dust in front of the trio. But eventually they found the light. It was in Flushing in 2012, at the age of 25, that the Scotsman succeeded. It was in Melbourne, at the age of 28, that the Swiss arrived there. Two different trajectories but the same results: three Majors in the money.
The coronation will thus have acted as a particle accelerator. And in the belief that they had what it took. Andy Murray, on the verge of his second Grand Slam title, admitted that this mental click had helped him a lot: “Over the last three, four, five years, I put so much pressure on myself, explained the Scotsman. I feel so peaceful now, almost liberated after my US OpenThat pressure Murray felt was the one that almost crippled the Austrian in this technically horrendous but psychologically epic final set at the US Open.
Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open
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For Wawrinka, the moult was different. Slower. Also less expected as the Swiss have long looked like an esthete of the circuit who stuck at the time of conclusion. But from his legendary defeat against Djokovic in Melbourne in 2013 to his first major coronation, he managed to become “Stan the Man”. In this regard, his victory in 2016 in… Melbourne convinced him of one thing: he was capable of it.
Before his third major coronation in New York, the Vaudois had also perfectly analyzed the thing. “It’s true that I suddenly took a step forward in my career, he analyzed. When I approach a final now, I tell myself that I can win it because I have generally produced good tennis to get there.“. This is the conviction that Thiem must embrace now. Before Flushing, he had lost three Grand Slam finals. But winning, even under special conditions, is the perfect antidote to unblocking mentally.
They almost succeeded again: Marin Cilic and Andy Roddick
For them, the first remained the last. Here again, with a temporality much closer to his own, Thiem will obviously be able to draw on the experience of Marin Cilic, whom he also beat in Flushing. It was at 25 and in an ultra-competitive context (the trio in the prime of life) that the Croatian won the cup. In a somewhat crazy tournament also with a final without a Top 10 and two members of the eternal trio eliminated in the semi-finals.
Armed with confidence, Cilic quickly resumed his way to the top. Blisters at Wimbledon in 2017 and a great match against his executioner Federer in Melbourne 2018 will have finished sealing his fate in Major. “Much like Stan when he won in Melbourne in 2014, the title of Marin in New York gave him enormous self-confidence., had judged Federer before the last final of the Croatian. Since then, in big tournaments, in big moments, he knows he can do it. He has that conviction. That doesn’t mean he’ll always succeed, but he’s got it in him now. ” The last sentence was premonitory. But his American coronation will have had the benefit of permanently installing him in the world Top 5.
Marin Cilic and Roger Federe
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Andy Roddick will have spent weeks in this Top 5 too. Victorious at almost 22 years of the 2003 US Open, the American had, it was almost written, to capitalize on this brilliant victory to win many others, especially at Wimbledon. The following ? The same executioner as Cilic. 4 finals, all lost to Federer (3 in London, 1 in New York). For Roddick, the story is unfair because it only retains (almost) his failures, including the sumptuous 2009 finale of Wimb ‘. Cruel too because he fell on a sacred monster. “I gave myself inner peace when I made the decision to no longer compare myself to Roger“, explained the American at the end of his career. The lesson for Thiem? He will only succeed by being himself, especially not by focusing on a trio that he is still having to meet.
The first as a finality: Thomas Johansson, Albert Costa and… Thomas Muster
Here’s everything Thiem wants to avoid. A one-shot and more behind it. Thomas Johansson, winner of the 2002 Australian Open at almost 27 after a completely disjointed table and a final missed by Marat Safin, explained it in a very simple way: “I never thought I would be a Grand Slam winner but I played my best tennis in these two weeksIn other words, for the Swede, this dream will have remained only an enchanting parenthesis. He will never manage to reach a Grand Slam final again despite an honorable career of almost fifteen years on the circuit.
“I would never have dared to dream of winning a Major one day“. The story is similar for Albert Costa, winner of Roland-Garros in a somewhat crazy year 2002. At 27, the Spaniard also reached the peak of his career and the zenith of his confidence:”The hardest part was believing in myself. Now I have faith ‘, he will explain afterwards. But barely four years later, having fallen back beyond 200th place in the world, he drew a line on his adventure.
But, irremediably, it is also to Thomas Muster, his former coach, that Thiem will turn. Winner of Roland-Garros in 1995, the year in which he won 11 (!) Trophies, the Austrian has never confirmed in Major despite a half in Melbourne. “Winning this Grand Slam didn’t change my life and it won’t change it“, he explained in particular in 1996. Sure that the recent winner of Flushing does not see things the same way …