For most grand slam champions, we assume, life goes from strength to strength as the achievement of one’s childhood dream propels them into an ever-lasting state of euphoria.
For Dominic Thiem, at least, that state of euphoria has quickly dissipated.
In a recent interview with Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Thiem revealed that since his success in 2020 he subsequently “fell into a hole” and has struggled with the gravity of his sacrifices in pursuit of tennis immortality.
“I spent 15 years without looking left or right,” Thiem reflected. “In a way, some things have fallen by the wayside – the private life, dealing with other things, broadening the horizon. You have to do something for your head, for your brain. There was only tennis. I want to change that a bit.”
Thiem also discussed his challenges of playing in the midst of a pandemic. “Corona has taken away the good things, starting with travel, free movement. The bad things remain. It’s difficult to play week after week under these circumstances”
Mind you, Thiem isn’t alone on this front. Australians Matt Reid and John Millman have previously voiced similar concerns about the current requirements imposed on players as a result of the pandemic – with international quarantines, playing bubbles and travel restrictions wreaking havoc with players liberty, sanity and earning capacity.
Similarly, the Austrian is also struggling on court. After an underwhelming 5-4 start to the 2021 season, Thiem this week withdrew from the Serbian Open, citing a left knee injury. It’s the third consecutive tournament Thiem has withdrawn from after Masters events in Miami and Monte Carlo.
Dealing with a congenital issue in both his knees, Thiem revealed “It’s been bothering me since Australia, but it’s just a little ache that will heal”.
Nonetheless, the 2020 US Open Champion and current world #4 hopes to be fit in time to play Masters events in Madrid and Rome before his two remaining priorities for the year in Roland Garros and the Tokyo Olympics.
“I haven’t had any matches against top players for a long time… I don’t know where I stand… I want to be fully competitive in Paris, that’s my ambition.”
Irrespective of whether Thiem can get back to the peak of his powers for Roland Garros’ delayed start on May 30, he will be one of the favourites to challenge for the trophy Rafael Nadal has effectively been hoarding since 2005. Although the enormity of that task speaks for itself.
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