Dominic Thiem’s start to the season was marked by shadows and lights. The pressure was considerable on the Austrian tennis player, who last year became the first player born in the 90s to win a Grand Slam title (at the US Open).
After a decent ATP Cup, Nicolas Massu's protégé did not have a favorable draw for the Australian Open, having had to meet Nick Kyrgios already during the first week. The third seed won in fifth after recovering two sets, but his run in Melbourne came to a halt in the round of 16 against Grigor Dimitrov.
A very disappointing result, especially considering that Thiem had reached the last act in 2020. Dominic did not shine particularly well in Doha last week, where he gave way to Roberto Bautista Agut in three fought sets. In the press conference preceding his debut in Dubai, the number 4 ATP touched on several issues, including the prospect of facing Rafael Nadal again at Roland Garros.
Thiem on facing Rafael Nadal in Paris
"I mean, it's just one of the most difficult things to do in tennis; in sports in general," Dominic Thiem said about beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open. "So I think everything needs to be perfect on that one day.
And I think the only way is to improve in general to work to improve all aspects of the game. To play the perfect claycourt tennis, now that's the only chance," the Austrian added. "But even then, I think it's it's not in my hands; it's still in his, (so we have) to hope that he has not the best day.
So I think there's so many things which need to work to have a chance there." As fans very well know, it was during this time when the coronavirus pandemic forced tennis to undergo hibernation, starting with the cancellation of Indian Wells Masters 2020.
The Austrian was asked if he could remember anything about that period. Yeah, I mean, first of all, it feels like, I don’t know, three years or something,” began Thiem. “Many things on and off court happened in that year, so it felt like a very long time.
Of course, the memory is very clear still. The moment when everybody was prepared for Indian Wells, everybody was looking forward, and then the tournament was canceled”. Thiem revealed he hadn’t anticipated that the virus would be relevant for almost a year. He earlier thought that tennis would resume shortly after two or three weeks.