Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem met seven times between 2016 and 2019. The Austrian had an excellent record against one of his idols, although it didn’t start well for him. Thiem was just a kid when Federer became the world’s leading player and dreamed of training and playing against one of the greatest players of all time.
Dominic ‘borrowed’ Roger’s one-handed backhand and got his first chance to share the spot with his idol in the 2016 semifinals in Brisbane. Federer delivered a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 win in 61 minutes, dominating serve and returning, leaving the Austrian behind and advancing into title contention.
Thiem said Federer “killed him on the pitch”, gained 22 more points and took half the return points to sail into the final in no time. The Swiss came from the only chance his opponent offered and controlled the pace with four returns.
Nothing could separate them in the most extended exchange. Roger clinched his victory in the shortest rallies of up to four shots, playing with aggression and precision and giving the young gun no answer. Thiem scored a forehand in the second game of the encounter to earn an early break.
He fell 3-0 after just eight minutes after Federer’s service winner in game three. Dominic hit a double fault in game four to send Roger further in front before the Swiss ended the opener with a service winner in game seven after 22 minutes.
Roger Federer lost just five games against Dominic Thiem in his first match.
The Austrian gave serve early in the second set thanks to another double fault. He immediately pulled it after a forehand down the line that gave him confidence.
Both players served well up to 3-3 and the younger player wished for more for the rest of the set. Instead, Federer went ahead with a break at 15 in game seven when Thiem hit a backhand. Roger cemented the lead with three winners in game eight and grabbed a match point in the next game.
He sprayed a forehand error and allowed Thiem to bring it home and extend the duel. The Swiss served 5-4 to win and placed an ace to seal the deal and advance to the final. “Play-wise, perhaps Roger was the biggest inspiration because of the one-handed backhand.
I obviously tried to copy his style a bit and then when I started watching tennis when I was seven or eight he became number 1. Roger was a huge inspiration from the start. Then I had this first training session with him, I was so nervous and I think everyone could see that in the interview I gave afterwards.
One of the most significant moments was our first game in Brisbane in 2016; He killed me doing it, which was awkward. Still, it’s all part of my great journey with Roger and it got even better when I beat him for the first time and in a remarkable final like Indian Wells,” said Dominic Thiem.