World number three Dominic Thiem can become the best player in the world by the end of the year according to former player and analyst Mats Wilander.
Thiem won his first Grand Slam last year at the US Open, making him the first men's player outside of the Top Three to a win a major title since 2017.
In fact, Thiem joined an exclusive club of only five players who have managed to win a Grand Slam title through an era dominated by Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic for 15 years.
The other winners are Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka with three titles each and Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro with one.
Following this breakthrough by Thiem, who is currently leading Team Austria in the ATP Cup, Wilander believes this year could be his year.
“I think he (Thiem) proved to himself that even without playing his best, he could win the final of a Grand Slam” Wilander told Reuters.
“He should have beaten Djokovic in the final (of the Australian Open) last year if he hadn’t panicked and risked too much.
"Then he was tired at the French Open and the ATP [Finals], which I can’t believe he didn’t win.
“But he is not intimidated by (Djokovic and Nadal) anymore on the big stages.
"He realised that ‘Hang on, I’m the one bullying these two around on the court, I’m deciding how things are going to work out, the racket is in my hands’.
"He might not beat them every time but he doesn’t care.”
The head-to-head stats are encouraging for Thiem as he has beaten both Nadal and Djokovic in three of their past four meetings.
“I think he has a good chance of being the best player in the world at the end of 2021, to be honest” Wilander concluded.
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