Novak Djokovic drops touching words while addressing rumors of Dominic Thiem retiring

Djokovic asked about the rumors of Thiem possibly retiring in Vienna later this year.

by Dzevad Mesic
Novak Djokovic drops touching words while addressing rumors of Dominic Thiem retiring
© Getty Images Sport - Morgan Hancock

Novak Djokovic has dropped some major praise on Dominic Thiem amid the rumors of the Austrian retiring in Vienna this year as the Serb underlined he doesn't want to deal with rumors at this time but also added that he would like to see the 2020 US Open champion rediscover his old level and continue competing. 

On Tuesday, Austrian media reported that former world No. 3 Thiem started informing his sponsors about his decision to retire at an ATP 500 tournament in Vienna, which takes place between October 21-27. 

Shortly after becoming a Grand Slam champion at the 2020 US Open, Thiem suffered a serious wrist injury and he hasn't been the same player since. Since returning to tennis in 2022 March, Thiem hasn't come anywere near his old level as he hasn't won any titles in four years - a farcry from the times when he was a legitimate contender for the biggest titles.

Although the 2022 and 2023 seasons weren't the best for Thiem, he always tried to keep his belief that he could eventually rediscover his old level. But this season hasn't brought anything different for Thiem as he is just 2-4 on the main level, and in his last appearance, he was beaten by Thanasi Kokkinakis in the Madrid Masters qualifying second round. 

Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

And now, it seems that 30-year-old Thiem may have come to terms that rediscovering his old level is imossible and decided to end his pro tennis journey. 

Djokovic asked about the rumors of Thiem retiring

“Well, I haven't heard of that. Unless he confirms it, I will not comment on the retirement because rumors are rumors. I can speak about him," Djokovic said.

"First of all, a great guy, very good person, someone that has very good manners, good values, family man, somebody that always took time to say hello, always showed respect on the court, off the court.

"I really like Dominic. I think he's a great example of somebody who never gives up after the difficult time he had and still has with injuries, trying to work his way back to the level where he was when he was winning Grand Slams and being on top of the world."

Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem
Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem © Getty Images Sport - Quinn Rooney

In 2018, Djokovic was dealing with an elbow injury and it took him some time before he was able to put the injury past him and return to his best level. But Djokovic highlights that every situation is different and that Thiem can't be judged because it didn't happen for him. 

"Of course, we all understand how difficult it is to come back. I mean, I was having an injury myself back in 2018, a major injury of the elbow, trying to work my way back. I know that kind of a feeling. Fortunately for me, I didn't stay in that kind of feeling for too long. I managed come back and find the desired level maybe six or seven months after that," Djokovic added.

"For him, it's been a struggle to build rankings and find the level of tennis for quite a few years. I definitely empathize with him and I wish him all the best.

"We are all hoping as tennis fans and colleagues of his that he can find the level because he was always very exciting to watch. Spectacular shots, incredible one-handed backhand, forehands, so much power and intensity he brings on the court.

"Yeah, hopefully he can stay, to play as long as he can, because he's also a very important player for our sport. But he decides, so only he knows how long he's going to play."

Thiem hinted at a retirement earlier this year

As mentioned above, Thiem did his best throughout the 2022 and 2023 seasons to keep an optimistic spirit. But after suffering back-to-back first-round exits at this year's Brisbane International and Australian Open, Thiem indicated that he could retire in the very near future if this season didn't go well. 

"I see this 2024 as a last chance, if I can I can turn around quickly. In what sense last chance? Well, I've been back for two years since my injury, in 2022 I finished as number 100 and in 2023 I finished the ranking as number 98. If I end up in these positions again I have to understand if it's worth continuing," Thiem said in late January.

Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem© Getty Images Sport - Jonathan DiMaggio

Four months have passed since Thiem made these remarks and there hasn't been any major improvements in his game. This season, Thiem four times appeared in the main draw of a main-level tournament - twice lost in the qualifying for a Masters tournament - and he also made two appearances at the Challenger level. Across all levels, Thiem is just 6-8. 

In his last match played, Thiem stood no chance versus Kokkinakis as the Australian ousted the Austrian 6-1 6-3 in the Madrid qualifying. 

Novak Djokovic Dominic Thiem