KEY POINTS

  • Thiem says Federer, Nadal's absence is no big deal
  • In a few years, every Grand Slam is going to be without them, adds the player
  • Djokovic has a nice chance to win his fourth title in New York

Dominic Thiem has said even though he loved watching the tennis greats Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer compete, the duo’s absence at the ongoing US Open 2020 is "not a big deal".

Nadal was the defending champion in the men’s singles category, but the World No. 2 decided to not participate citing safety reasons amid the coronavirus pandemic. "This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel," Nadal wrote on social media.

Federer, who has won the US Open four times, had earlier informed that he would be missing the remainder of the 2020 season after he underwent a procedure on his right knee. 

This is the first time since 1999 that a Grand Slam event is happening without Nadal and Federer.

Even though the legendary pair will be missed, many notable players have chosen to play at the US Open this year. It is the best chance for Djokovic, who won the New York major title in 2018, to clinch his fourth US Open title in the coming weeks. The other stars competing in the men’s category at the US Open are Thiem, Andy Murray, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

Thiem faced 23-year-old Jaume Munar from Spain in the first round, where the World No.3 won the first two sets before his opponent retired because of injury. Qualifying into the second round was a mere cakewalk for the Austrian.

In a press conference after his first-round game, Thiem was asked about Nadal and Federer’s absence. To which, Thiem said it is "not nice" but their missing out on the Grand Slam is also "not a big deal" because in a few years, every Grand Slam is going to be without them.

"As I said, I mean, the absence of them is never nice. Because obviously, I mean, I can speak only about myself. I love to watch them, as well. Even if I'm a player myself, I love to watch them, watch them compete. But I think it's not too big of a deal because it's not the first time in a major that these two are not playing. And in a few years, it's going to be every major without them, so I think it's not that big of a deal," added Thiem in the press conference.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal's win over Roger Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final contributed to him becoming world No. 1 for the first time later that year. In this picture, Nadal (R) is congratulated by Federer after winning their final tennis match of the 2008 Wimbledon championships against at The All England Tennis Club in southwest London, on July 6, 2008. Photo: RYAN PIERSE/AFP/Getty Images

Thiem, who lost to Djokovic at the Australian Open 2020, has also emphasized on the talented young players. "There are still many, many super players around. So it doesn't really matter, as it's not the first match where they are not competing," he added.