(Reuters) – U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem has set himself the goal of his career: winning the French Open, and the Austrian says he wants to oust Clay’s king Rafa Nadal in the process.
Nadal’s dominance of the red clay courts in Paris is unparalleled, with the Spaniard claiming his thirteenth French Open title last year to match 20 Roger Federer singles titles in the Grand Slam.
Two of those 13 home-court victories came against Austrian Tim, who won his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year.
“For me it’s the tournament that has produced the best results in the past … so after I won my first Grand Slam title, it’s now the biggest goal and something I really want to achieve,” Tim told the Laureus Sports Awards.
“I like to set more goals in the short term, but winning the French Open is a huge thing … It’s actually a career goal. It’s also my biggest goal for this year.”
Thiem said beating Nadal in the French Open would be a huge challenge.
“I think last year he was already 34 years old and probably played one of the best tournaments ever, so he’s definitely the man to beat,” said the 27-year-old, who was nominated for a Laureus World Breakthrough Award. For the year 2020.
“One of the biggest challenges in sports will be beating this guy on the main court, which is why I would really like to do it when he’s still active.”
Outside of tennis, Tim said he was a huge fan of Chelsea in the Premier League and was “very upset” when Frank Lampard was sacked as coach in January.
“I have, I don’t know, 50 shirts with his name written on it, so I was very happy when I became a coach,” Tim said, adding that he hoped Lampard would return to Stamford Bridge one day.
“It was such a wonderful and magical bond between him and the club, so obviously I was very sad when he left.”
Prepared by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; edited by Peter Rutherford)
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