For the first time in his career, Dominic Thiem plays his home ATP event as a Grand Slam champion. The US Open 2020 champion is in an even better mental space compared to his title-winning run at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna last year. However, he still called it an ‘almost impossible’ task to win the title again this week.
The ATP 500 event this year boasts of a star-studded draw. Six of the top-10 players in the rankings are part of the draw, including the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, and Andrey Rublev. While the draw was already very competitive, Novak Djokovic‘s addition made it even more ‘unreal’, according to Thiem.
“It’s always special to start as a defending champion at a tournament, but this year is unreal, the whole draw. It was strong and then Novak arrived and it got unreal even [more],” Thiem expressed ahead of the event.
At the same time, Thiem feels that the Vienna tournament is the best ATP 500 event ever. “[It is] probably the best [ATP] 500 tournament ever. Defending the title is not mission impossible, but almost,” Thiem said.
Thiem’s title run last year was one of the most emotional wins of his career. At a tournament he visited as a kid and dreamt of winning for years, Thiem endured a tough passage through the draw to lift the trophy. He called it the most important title of his career after the US Open win.
“I would say of course after the US Open that’s still the biggest title of my career. [It is] probably one of the most emotional ones as well because I’ve been here since I was a four or five-year-old kid every year as a spectator who didn’t understand tennis. Then as a spectator who was super interested in tennis,” Thiem expressed.
The world number three is ready to give it his all to defend the title this week. A visibly exhausted Thiem lost a thriller against Diego Schwartzman in the French Open 2020 quarter-finals. Thiem said he expected that after the emotional and physical rollercoaster that the US Open was, just two weeks before that.
Thiem now feels good after a well-deserved break in recent weeks. “Obviously I was completely done after the French Open, so I took off a week where I did nothing and I also had to still reflect on the US Open title,” Thiem explained. He further expressed that he had new goals in mind going ahead.
Thiem’s draw this week prompted him to call the challenge ‘almost impossible’. He opens his campaign against Kei Nishikori, before a potential second-round tie against Stan Wawrinka. He is then drawn to face the in-form Rublev in the quarter-final and Medvedev in the semis. If he makes it through these rounds, Djokovic could very well be waiting in the finale.