Dominic Thiem said he is not yet part of a 'Fab Four' at the top of men's tennis despite becoming only the second player to record five career wins against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
After several years spent knocking on the door, the 27-year-old Austrian joined the grand slam winners' club this year when he won the US Open, and at the ATP Finals in London this week he has beaten Nadal and Djokovic.
Thiem said he got lucky against world No.1 Djokovic in a pulsating semi-final lasting almost three hours on Saturday, squandering four match points in the second-set tiebreaker, then coming back from 0-4 in the deciding-set breaker to win 7-5 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (7-5).
The fact that he managed to shrug off the disappointment of double-faulting on one of his match points, then finish the match with a blaze of brilliance to stun Djokovic, speaks volumes for how far Thiem has come.
But the world No.3 said he has a long way to go to start being bracketed with Nadal and Federer, who have won 20 major titles, and Djokovic who has 17 to his name.
"Of course not, I'm so far away. I have one slam and one Masters 1000 title, that's it," said the modest Thiem, who beat Nadal on Tuesday in the round-robin stage in London.
"But I love to play against them, these living legends."
Thiem is clearly now established as a major force in the men's game and winning the year-ending tournament for the first time on Sunday against Nadal or Russian Daniil Medvedev would be another peak scaled for the man from the ski-mad nation.
"It's super special (to have five wins each against the big three), and it's special to have my 300th Tour win today," Thiem told reporters.
"To beat them all five times is something great for me.
"Every match against them is a privilege and a huge chance to learn, but to beat them is huge confidence boost."
Three-times grand slam champion and former world No.1 Andy Murray is the only other player to have beaten Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at least five times each.
Thiem's record against Djokovic now stands at 5-7, against Nadal it is 6-9, while he leads Federer 5-2.
Australian Associated Press