Dominic Thiem, the fourth seed at this week’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open, becoming just the second Austrian to triumph at that level (also Thomas Muster). The only surprise was that his first Masters 1000 triumph did not come on clay.
Thiem is on pace to become one of the most successful clay-court players of this generation, if not in the Open Era. While Rafael Nadal has overshadowed the 25-year-old with his dominance on the surface throughout his career, winning 23 of his record 33 Masters 1000 trophies on clay, Thiem has quickly moved up the clay-court record books.
Among active players, Thiem has the fourth-highest winning percentage on clay according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, winning more than 74 per cent of his matches on the surface.
The only three players who have won on clay at a greater pace are the ‘Big Three’ of Nadal (92%), World No. 1 Novak Djokovic (79%) and Roger Federer (76%). Thiem is the only player to defeat Nadal on the red dirt over the past two seasons. The Spaniard holds a 50-2 record on clay since 2017.
Active Clay-Court Winning Percentage Leaders
“It’s always my most important part of the season with my biggest highlight of the year, Roland Garros, coming up,” Thiem said of the European clay swing, beginning with Monte-Carlo. “There are so many points to play for and only great tournaments.”
Furthermore, only five active players own more clay-court titles than eight-time ATP Tour clay-court champion Thiem — Nadal (57), Djokovic (13), David Ferrer (13), Federer (11) and Tommy Robredo (11) — and they are all at least six years older than him. The Austrian is just three titles away from Federer, who won his first ATP Tour trophy on clay when Thiem was only eight years old.
Active Clay-Court Title Leaders
Thiem’s performance in Indian Wells serves as a clear example of his hard-court prowess. Yet entering Monte-Carlo, the World No. 5 has won 18 per cent more of his clay-court matches than he has on hard courts. Last year’s Roland Garros finalist currently sits 16th in the Open Era in clay-court winning percentage, ahead of former World No. 1s Juan Carlos Ferrero, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe.
The three-time Nitto ATP Finals qualifier has made the final at the Mutua Madrid Open — one of three clay-court Masters 1000 tournaments — in each of the past two years. He will try to advance that far in Monte-Carlo for the first time. The fourth seed will play Slovak Martin Klizan or Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis in the first round.
*Spaniard Nicolas Almagro played his final match last week.