Dominic, you love rankings. Why?
I like rankings because you can talk a lot about them. You can argue and laugh with friends.
Which rankings would you like to talk about?
What about the greatest athletes of all time?
Then let’s get started! Who is your greatest athlete of all time?
Roger Federer! And this is not because I see it through my rose-tinted tennis glasses like that. Roger put the entire sport of tennis on a new level. On and off court – an icon, a true superstar!
The number two in your ranking?
Michael Jordan, because he was the first athlete who completely combined sports with business. He celebrated sheer alien things in the NBA and economically he rose to a world brand.
Your number three?
Argentina´s soccer legend Diego Maradona! A flamboyant character, charismatic, getting you going. A genius with the soccer ball. He was the first soccer player who started an incredible hype. However, his scandals off the field cannot easily be excused. The documentary on him was impressive.
Who is the number four on your list?
Rafael Nadal! His dominating game on clay and at the French Open say it all – this is surely a record for the tennis-eternity. He has constantly been developing his game. We get along well, I admired him when I was a child. He is a totally easy going guy, always friendly and helpful.
Number five is …
… Michael Schuhmacher! Regarding motor racing he is the first one that comes to my mind. He set incredible records, had outstanding races, a true superstar! His tragic skiing accident shocked the entire world!
Who is your number six?
That´s it now! My ranking is over after the top five, but we can continue talking about the greatest athletes of all time.
Can other F1 drivers make it onto your list of top athletes?
Absolutely! Niki Lauda, a three-time world champion. His sensational comeback after the horrible accident at the Nuerburgring inspired millions of people. He was one of the greatest ambassadors of Austria.
… and of the current F1 field?
I consider Lewis Hamilton as one of the greatest of all time. He is extremely fast, a total showman, a playboy and successful businessman. He fits in a lot of things and he fights to protect the environment. I like that even more than his six world champion trophies.
Let´s change to a different kind of sport – boxing?
The “Rumble in the Jungle“ against George Foreman, the “Thrilla in Manila“ against Joe Frazier. We are talking about the ultra-legend Muhammad Ali. In 1999 he was honored as the athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee.
He used to inspire people like no other.
No matter what time of the day or night, half of the world was watching his fights live on TV.
Maybe another boxing legend?
Mike Tyson can’t be left out. He was the youngest heavyweight world champion of all time, a totally crazy character, at the same time we need to mention his unmistakable manager Don King. Tyson made millions and he wasted millions. The pictures of his scandals and his tiger in his backyard were spread around the world. It seems like a life of a Hollywood-movie. And he even made it into the movie theaters in the funny Hangover-movies.
Iron-Mike actually likes tennis.
I have seen him in the backstage area of some tournaments. He came with his wife and daughter to support Sloane Stephens. They seem to be friends.
Back to tennis. Who can challenge your ranking of Federer and Nadal?
Novak Djokovic! We have had a couple of great fights. He is probably the best player of all time mentally. He is extremely professional, always focused one hundred per cent. Novak took the issue of nutrition in tennis onto a higher level.
What about the old times?
Well, Bjorn Borg. He was the first pop-star of tennis, he moved masses of people, the women around the world admired him. I had the chance to experience him as captain at the Laver-Cup twice, he caused some moments filled with goosebumps. And by the way, I like wearing the underwear from his Borg-label.
Your first role model in your childhood?
Andre Agassi. His outfit was legendary, a cool dude – for the kids in particular. We met years ago, it was a really nice meet and greet. I would have loved to play against Andre.
What about the women’s tour?
There are two names I consider the best of the best. Steffi Graf and Serena Williams, those two left their marks on the sport.
In soccer Maradona is your number one – who else is among the top?
Ronaldinho! Watching him was a lot of fun. Even though he played for Barcelona and scored one of his best goals against my favorite club Chelsea. The ball seemed to stick to his foot and his number of tricks seemed to be endless.
Is there another Brazilian on your list?
Ronaldo, an unforgettable scoring machine. He was extremely fast, he scored goals one after the other. And already as an athlete he loved life. World champion, several league titles, he just didn’t win the Champions League. He was a go-getter in the penalty area.
Why is Pele missing on your list?
Not on purpose! But Pele played decades before my time …
"To me Niki Lauda is the greatest car racer of all times!"
FYI: Pele won three World Cups, scored almost 1,300 goals in his career.
Unfortunately I haven’t seen enough videos of him, I have to catch up on that. In Brazil he is worshipped like a god, I noticed that when I was in Rio.
The question of questions: Lionel Messi or Ronaldo?
I consider both as top stars. Ronaldo is slightly ahead, this is just gut feeling. His scoring numbers are out of this world, he scores from every possible position.
Absolutely incredible, a magician! Too bad he plays for Barcelona! The Catalans have the biggest rivalry with my “soccer-love“ Chelsea.
Where are the Chelsea players in your ranking?
Unfortunately nowhere! None of these players has made it onto my top list yet. However, the club is in pole-position …
You are a fan of David Beckham?
Who isn’t? A cult-, almost an art-character. He is one of the coolest athletes of all time, the greatest pop-star in soccer history. He is a marketing machine! The girls all over the world scream even if they just see a picture of him.
Let´s stay with ball sports. Basketball?
As mentioned before Jordan is part of my top five! LeBron James or Kobe Bryant were also sensational globally, the NBA rules. Basketball is highly respected in the USA.
Have you ever experienced sporting events in the US but tennis?
Oh yes! I have seen many NBA matches in Miami. A friend of mine has a season ticket. I always liked the atmosphere, there is always a great show around the match for the audience.
I saw about 10 to 15 NHL matches of the Florida Panthers. Ice-hockey is also spectacular, worth watching!
Who is your ice-hockey hero?
Wayne Gretzky! A four time Stanley-Cup-champion, an 18 time all-star. He used to play with the jersey number 99 – just as I do at my soccer team “1. TFC“.
What about American football?
Big names, big stadiums, the entire USA go crazy at the Super Bowl. Tom Brady won it six times, a legend. Not only because he is married to Brazilian model Gisele Buendchen.
There is only one: Valentino Rossi. The Dottore with the number 46, he represents a part of sports history, the Italian is worshipped worldwide. A cool guy!
From the race tracks into the water – did you like swimming?
No! This was not part of my traits. I don’t even want to think of it …
When I was 11 years old I only had a B in PE because of my mediocre swimming skills. Yet at the same time I won the Austrian tennis championship for the under-12-year-olds.
Swimming also had lots of superstars.
For example Mark Spitz! The American set his records at the Olympic Summer Games in Munich in 1972. Spitz won seven gold medals, setting a record time at each competition. Michael Phelps outdid all of that: having won 28 Olympic medals he is the most successful Olympic athlete, that’s insane!
All-time stars in track and field?
There is no doubt about it, Usain Bolt takes the lead. Eight time Olympic champion, eleven time world champion over 100m. It is a different level, nerves made of steel, at his peak at every big event. I’d also like to mention Carl Lewis, a nine time Olympic champion and eight time world champion.
What are your experiences on the track?
Just like swimming. Very little, let’s say medium. I always ran faster after a ball. If there wasn’t a ball involved, I wasn’t really motivated.
Ping-pong is one of your favorite pastimes.
Oh yes! Whenever I have the chance, I pick up a bat, in the backyard anyway. But we also transformed our kitchen table to play ping-pong. The evening sessions often took until midnight.
Are you so ambitious?
Yes, absolutely when it comes to ping-pong. I don’t like losing, I have had big battles either with my brother Moritz or with friends. I would even dare to state I do have a good touch for the ball.
Who is your ping-pong hero?
I used to watch big events on TV, Swedish Jan-Ole Waldner was someone very special. Truly a great athlete, a two time world champion and Olympic singles champion in 1992.
Golf also requires small balls. What are your experiences?
Very little. I have tried it a few times, it wasn’t that bad actually, I guess I would have the touch.
Is there a golf star in your ranking?
Oops! Big mistake, I forgot Tiger Woods. Actually he is a candidate for the top 5.
Have you been following his career?
Yes, I watched many tournaments on TV. He is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the sport, he is amongst the best paid athletes in the world.
However, the eternal number one of golf is …
Jack Nicklaus. An icon in the 70ies and 80ies. He won the most major trophies.
By the way golf. Tiger Woods had a long time relationship with Lindsey Vonn.
She is also one of the best athletes. Lindsey won everything there is to win in skiing. She made skiing way more popular in the US and she revealed quite a lot about her personal life in the US talk shows.
Last but not least: let’s mount the bike?
I never really liked it. It is too monotonous for me, I need action!
Have you ever followed the Giro d´Italia or the Tour de France?
Barely! The broadcasts lasted for hours, I mostly spent those afternoon hours on the tennis court.
Is there a cycling legend who can make it onto your superstar list?
Of course! The Belgian Eddy Merckx. He is considered to be the greatest cyclist of all time, won the Giro d´Itlalia and the Tour de France five times respectively. At least that’s what I read on Wikipedia …
Do you like surfing the Internet?
Very much! I mainly watch sporting events on YouTube. If I want to find out more about an athlete, I use google.
Will Dominic Thiem be one of the greatest of all time one day?
That is a huge challenge, I’m lacking about 15 to 20 Grand Slam titles …