Dominic Thiem has set himself up for a run at No. 1 with the season he's had, but says there will be plenty of competition for the top spot in 2021.
Thiem won the US Open—his first major title—and reached the finals of the Australian Open, finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic, and the ATP Finals, where he fell to Daniil Medvedev in the title match.
The 27-year-old is ranked No. 3 under the adjusted ATP rankings, which allow players to count tournament points from March 2019 or this season, whichever is higher. Veterans Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are in charge at No. 1 and No. 2, but Thiem, who set his career-high of No. 3 back in March, is just a few hundred points from overtaking Nadal.
The Austrian could look to challenge for No. 1 if he keeps up his recent performances. And he knows it.
“It was still a very intense year... since the tours returned was super intense, so I haven’t set myself any goals yet for next year. But of course I want to climb up the rankings,” Thiem said.
“'I mean, this year and also [the previous] year has been amazing. I was playing great and had deep runs in many, many big tournaments. That’s what I want to do next year. If I’m able to do that, I think I will also get chances to climb the rankings.
“There are, I think, six, seven guys who will fight for the top spots.”
That includes a number of rising players, like Medvedev, who is also challenging Thiem for the No. 3 spot with his ATP Finals win.
“Probably if you look at the whole tournament, he was the best player. He didn't lose a set in the group stage,” Thiem said. “Beat [the] No. 2 and No. 3 players in the world in the semis and in the final, so he definitely deserved that title.”
Both Thiem and Medvedev defeated Djokovic and Nadal during the event, and Thiem said it was important for the younger players to aim for the standards set by the Big 4.
“We proved that we can play with the legends, that we can also beat them, that we can also win the biggest tournaments,” he noted.
“I think it's super important for the sport, because like Roger [Federer], Rafa, Nole and also Andy [Murray], they did so much for the sport. I think they brought so many people to tennis, so many new fans to tennis.
“I think that's our challenge, that we play great in big tournaments, that we become huge stars. It's super important for tennis in general, because, I mean, they gave so much to the sport.”