Dominic Thiem provided renewed motivation for the tour's younger players with his win at the US Open, breaking a six-year drought of new men's Grand Slam champions. But it might have left those slightly older wondering if they've got catching up to do.
Thiem, who turned 27 during the tournament, sits right in between a group of regular Grand Slam performers aged between 30 and 28 years old—such as Kei Nishiori, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin—and a wave of newer names such as Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and some players younger still.
According to Dimitrov, it will help younger players aiming to break through. Thiem's victory was his first in four attempts in Grand Slam finals.
“I cannot think of one person that deserves it more than him, to be completely honest," Dimitrov told press at Rome. "I think it was good. It's new. It's fresh for everyone. It's intriguing as well. It helps sort of the younger generation to believe a little bit more. You're going to see a lot of different battles and so on.”
But the 29-year-old Bulgarian is also saying that his generation shouldn't yet be discounted.
"We are gonna have more pressure, but that's what also—why this suits a little bit more for us, because we can lean on the experience," said Dimitrov, who won a three-setter against Jannik Sinner and fell to Denis Shapovalov in another three-setter in Rome. "I appreciate those matches a lot more and a lot different right now than before."
Whatever their age, the former ATP Finals champion says players must concentrate on improving their games at the highest levels. Before Thiem's victory, there was no current active men's Grand Slam champion under 31 years old.
"But I always say tennis is not a sprint. Tennis is a marathon. It's going to be, here and there, you're going to have matches that you're just going to win with experience" he said.
Dimitrov advanced to the quarterfinals at the Italian Open, falling to Denis Shapovalov in three sets. There are currently eight men's Grand Slam champions on tour.