“Shouldn’t Come Back Until It Makes Sense”: Dominic Thiem Opens Up on Sabbatical From Tennis

Published 04/23/2021, 10:30 AM EDT
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Dominic Thiem of Austria reacts during his singles match against Lloyd Harris of South Africa during Day Ten of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)


Dominic Thiem has opened up on the challenges of playing in the new normal and finding motivation to compete. The Austrian tennis star has been on a self-imposed sabbatical from the game to heal minor niggles and regather himself after a run of poor results.

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In an interview with a German publication, the current World No. 4 said that if one isn’t a hundred percent fit, it gets difficult to find a way to win, especially with no crowds to derive motivation from.

Thiem says lack of fitness and absence of crowds hurt him at Australian Open, Doha and Dubai

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Quizzed on how Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic blamed their early exits at Monte-Carlo on the spectator-less stands, saying they couldn’t lift their game in the absence of any applause, Thiem said that it was, indeed, true.

LONDON, ENGLAND: Dominic Thiem of Austria looks dejected during his match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia during Day 8 of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena in London, England. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

However, he said that apart from the fact that there are no crowds at most events, the Tour seems to be progressing “relatively normally.”

The reigning US Open champion added that lack of prime fitness and absence of spectators combined to inflict misery on him not only at the Australian Open but also at Doha and Dubai.

After a heroic comeback win over home favorite Nick Kyrgios, Thiem was surprisingly listless in a closed-door fourth-round clash against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, and the 2019 runners-up went down in straight sets to crash out of the Australian Open.

He followed up with two more early exits in Doha and Dubai, raising question marks around his fitness and form.

Reflecting on his run of losses, Thiem said, “If you are not one hundred percent, you have lost. For me, that was the case this year at the Australian Open and especially in Doha and Dubai. The opponents are way too strong, the level is too high and you lose in the first or second round.”

Dominic Thiem says he couldn’t risk another early exit at Serbia Open and hence skipped the event

Thiem said that it was better to pull out of events and recharge one’s batteries than risk losses and early exits. “It is wiser if you take yourself out of it. You shouldn’t come back until it makes sense,” the Austrian said.

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On pulling out of the Serbia Open, he said that if he had competed in Belgrade with a bad knee and lost in the “first lap”, he would have found himself in the “middle of a negative vortex.” “So I better stay home. I’m not the first, nor the last to do it that way,” Thiem said.

The German is eyeing a return to competitive action ahead of the French Open.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

830 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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