Austrian tennis player Dominic Thiem believes he and the 'next generation' are nowhere near the standard of the traditional 'Big Four' yet.
The 23-year-old world number seven says despite his victories over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic this year, he and the other youngsters hoping for grand slam success have a long way to go before emulating the likes of Nadal, Djokovic, Britains Andy Murray and Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.
"We still have to win a lot of matches to deserve to be called the next big things in tennis," Thiem said, as quoted on Yahoo. "It's nice to hear that but I think it's still a pretty long ways for both of us.
Thiem said further that the Big Four's recent decreased participation in tournaments will only help upcoming players like himself, Germany's Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios of Australia to improve and close the gap.
"They are really special," he added. "It's very unusual you have four players like this in one generation. I think it's getting a little better for the other players.
"They are starting to take a few tournaments. In the grand slams, you would have to beat two or three (of them) in a run. That's why other players haven't won the big titles."
The final grand slam of the year, the US Open, starts on August 28 and Thiem feels if he is playing well going into the event he could surprise the big guns.
#CitiOpen #ATPWashington #ATP500 #Washington #UnitedStates Surface: Hard DRAW (1) #DominicThiem (Aut)(Photo) Bye #VasekPospisil (Can) Vs #HenriLaaksonen (Sui) #MalekJaziri (Tun) Vs Qualy Bye (15) #KevinAnderson (Rsa) (12) #MischaZverev (Ger) Bye Qualy Vs #GuidoPella (Arg) #StefanKozlov (Usa) Vs Qualy Bye (6) #GaelMonfils (Fra)
His build up for the US Open begins with the Washington Open where he faces Finland's Henri Laaksonen in Tuesday's second round.
"It's important to find a strong game. It's the start of a very long journey," Thiem explained. "I hope it works out well here in Washington. We have a lot of tough matches ahead. From round one basically, there are only really tough matches.
"Of course it's nice to be top seed here [in Washington] but it doesn't affect anything because the guys behind me are really strong."