“He’s a Bit Exhausted”: Novak Djokovic Opens Up on Dominic Thiem’s Recent Struggle and Withdrawal From Serbia Open 2021

Published 04/19/2021, 10:44 PM EDT
Dominic Thiem of Austria embraces Novak Djokovic of Serbia following victory in their mens singles semi-final match during Day fourteen of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros on June 08, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem are friends more than fellow competitors. Thus, it only came naturally to the Serbian World No. 1 to speak kindly on Thiem’s recent lack of success.

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BELGRADE, SERBIA – JUNE 12: Dominic Thiem (L) of Austria and Novak Djokovic (R) of Serbia smile during an exhibition double match of the Adria Tour charity exhibition hosted by Novak Djokovic, on June 12, 2020 in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

The 18-time Grand Slam champion attended a pre-tournament media conference of the ATP 250 Serbia Open 2021. In the interview, he reflected upon the Austrian’s withdrawal from the tournament and his struggle on the men’s tour.

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Dominic Thiem, 27, left his Barcelona Open title defence to play in Belgrade on request from the Serbian himself. However, a recent knee injury during training resulted in him pulling out of the tournament.

After feeling sorry for his knee, the 33-year-old Novak Djokovic heaped huge praise on the reigning US Open champion.

He said, “It’s definitely a big loss for our tournament to not have Dominic here. The tennis world needs him because he’s a Grand Slam champion and one of the top players of the world, a big star.”

Additionally, Djokovic added that Thiem played in Adria Tour last year and won the tournament in front of Belgrade people. “He was excited to come back, so it’s unfortunate he’s not here,” the Serb added.

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Djokovic on Thiem’s recent struggle and tennis bubble

More significantly, Thiem has had a disastrous start to his season and has repeatedly blamed his mental side for that. But the current World No. 1 cited ‘bubble life’ as the cause for not just Thiem but all tennis players.

“I’ve heard that he is struggling with how he is feeling,” Djokovic continued. “He’s a bit exhausted with the restrictions in the bubble life on the tour. I understand what he’s been going through because we all go through that.”

Dominic Thiem of Austria shakes hands with Novak Djokovic of Serbia after beating him on Day 7 of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena on November 21, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Furthermore, Novak added that he understands and feels for Thiem and others enduring the bubble life week-in and week-out. He tagged the experience would be “very challenging mentally and physically” for anybody.

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“Most of the players are experiencing some of the mental issues and motivational issues. Playing in front of empty stands, traveling and not being able to go out of their hotel room. Just being restricted to the tennis courts and the hotel,” he said.

Conclusively, he hopes for this ‘new experience’ to get over soon, which would help players in the long run. Djokovic will play the following week in his home country tournament Serbia Open and aim to win the title. It will run from April 19th – April 25th 2021.

For regular updates on Serbia Open, you can visit the tournament’s official Instagram and Twitter handles.

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Purav Joshi

686 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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