World number seven Dominic Thiem is ready to challenge for grand slam titles but the continued presence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic means he will be made to wait for his maiden major triumph, according to the Austrian's coach. The 23-year-old has made rapid progress during the last 12 months and on Tuesday [6 June] will play in his second consecutive French Open quarter-final against reigning champion Djokovic.
Thiem enjoyed a successful 2016 season, winning four titles on the ATP tour, and rising into the world's top 10 for the first time. That success saw him make his maiden appearance at the season-ending World Tour Finals in London as his status as one of the planet's leading players was cemented.
Such a breakthrough was underlined when Thiem reached his first Masters 1000 final in Madrid, only to be defeated by the evergreen Nadal, who, along with Federer, has enjoyed a stellar 2017 despite entering the twilight years of his career.
The upcoming last-eight clash with Djokovic is a repeat of the semi-final meeting between the pair last year when the Serbian prevailed in straight sets on his way to completing a career grand slam.
The 23-year-old is yet to drop a set at Roland Garros but his coach is realistic over his prospects of winning the title, with Nadal to come if he can win.
"He's physically and mentally ready, but the problem is still Federer, Nadal, Djokovic," former Austrian Davis Cup captain Gunter Bresnik said, speaking to the tournament's YouTube channel. "Here, he would have to beat both Djokovic and Nadal to get to the finals and then he can expect an [Andy] Murray in the finals from the other half.
"What pressure he has, he makes himself. He gets no pressure from me or from his parents. Maybe the Austrian spectators expect him to do well again. But I think he is not at the stage yet where he can repeat grand slam semi-final appearances.
"It's not easy for a young player like him, who is a very emotional and very sensitive guy, to play day in, day out at the same level. It's definitely something he needs to learn, to maybe follow those guys in their footsteps."
Regardless of Thiem's success during the remainder of the French Open, he will hope to have a better second half of the season than last term. A last-four appearance in Paris was followed by victory at the Stuttgart Open and a run to the Moselle Open final but his campaign was undermined by a second-round exit at Wimbledon. He also retired during his last 16-clash with Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open.