Heirs to the throne, Part IV: Dominic Thiem

They are the future of tennis whose stars shone brightly in 2018. Here's everything you wanted to know about them

Dominic Thiem with his finalist's plate at Roland-Garros 2018©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Simon Cambers

They are the future of tennis whose stars shone brightly in 2018. Here's everything you wanted to know about their tennis, hobbies and personalities.

Here are five things to know about Dominic Thiem.

Grand slam glory getting closer every year

2018 was a breakthrough year for Thiem as he reached his first grand slam final, at Roland Garros, with only Rafael Nadal denying him the title. In addition to two more clay-court titles, in Buenos Aires and Lyon, Thiem also picked up his first indoor hard-court crown in St Peterburg, helping him qualify for the ATP Finals for the third straight year as part of the world’s top eight.

Could 2019 be the year he wins a grand slam? “I learned that I was super-motivated from that point to be able to live that moment again, to play a grand slam final and be again that close to such a big goal which I had set up from the very beginning of my career,” he said.

His backhand is a thing of beauty

In an era when the single-handed backhand has become almost a rare bird, it is refreshing to see someone play a single-hander as well as Thiem does. Rated at No 4 in the New York Times list of one-handed backhands, Thiem has so much power he can muscle winners with it from anywhere and now that he has the confidence to stand closer to the baseline, he is a threat on all surfaces.

Dominic Thiem hitting a backhand at Roland-Garros 2018©Philippe Montigny/FFT
Mr Nice Guy has a tough side.

Thiem is one of the Tour’s genuine nice guys, always polite and generous with his time. But behind the softly-spoken voice lies a steely competitor who has become more and more resilient with every year.

“I consider myself mentally strong,” he said. “Even if I have really bad losses or shocking losses, I still come back a while after to play good tennis again. “I think that’s a sign of mental strength. Also the two wins against Rafa on clay, in Rome last year, and in Madrid last year, it shows I am up there.”

He did military service in Vienna

Austrian men are required by law to do six months of military service but since he was already a high-profile sportsman, Thiem was given special dispensation to do just four weeks, a commitment he fulfilled at the end of 2014. It’s fair to say, though, that he didn’t enjoy it that much, questioning whether a country as small as Austria really needs to have a good army or not.

To add insult to injury, he also got sick for a month at the end of his service. "I'm not a big fan of the military service,” he said at this year’s Roland-Garros. “It was a pain in the arse these three, four weeks, seriously.

Thiem’s real love is for Chelsea Football Club

Thiem was about 10 or 11 years old when she started to become really interested in football and after watching a few Chelsea matches on television, he was hooked. “It developed slowly, until I became a hard-core fan,” he told ATP TV.

“If I wasn’t a tennis player I would have loved to have been a footballer. If I would have been good enough, who knows?”.