“It’s Like an Athletic Death”: Former World No.1 Weighs Dominic Thiem’s Mental Health Problems

Published 04/20/2021, 4:30 PM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Austria’s Dominic Thiem reacts during his fourth round match against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov REUTERS/Jaimi Joy


The last 10 months for Dominic Thiem have been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. In this period, he won US Open 2020 and reached the final of the ATP Tour Finals, but in 2021 his form dipped because of injuries and mental unease.

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Talking about mental health issues experienced by tennis players, former World No.1 Mats Wilander weighed on the topic.

Dominic Thiem in action during his fourth round match against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

In a recent interview, Dominic Thiem had spoken about his mental health. The Austrian was overwhelmed with tennis and said he had fallen in a ‘hole’ after his US Open 2020 triumph.

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“After that, I was in euphoria. The results were still right, I was in the final of the ATP finals in London. But I fell into a hole in preparation for this season.”

Commenting on Thiem’s concerning words, Wilander spoke about depression. According to the Swede, the first indicator of depression in a tennis player is the lack of winning feeling on the tennis court.

“For a tennis player, the ultimate indicator of depression is when you are on the court and you no longer feel the visceral urge to win. When the outcome doesn’t really matter anymore, it’s an alert. It’s like an athletic death.”

Dominic Thiem reacts during his first-round match against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin REUTERS/Kelly Defina

Dominic Thiem feeling a ‘certain emptiness’

Thiem further explained his mental struggles sayi8ng he he couldn’t enjoy his triumph to the fullest. He described this feeling as an ’emptiness’ which has also affected his life outside tennis.

“I chased the big goal for 15 years without looking left or right. Like I said, I achieved it – under weird circumstances, but that’s not that important to me. In a way, some things fell by the wayside – private life, dealing with other things, broadening your horizons. 

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“You have to do something for your head, for your brain. There was only tennis. I want to change that a bit. There’s a certain emptiness, but that’s really no drama.”

The rigorous nature of the tennis calendar can be heavy on players. Thiem has always worked and fought to become a Grand Slam champion. This arduous process could easily have taken a toll on his psyche and deteriorated his mental health. The pandemic further escalated the issue as players were first confined to their homes and later played for weeks without a break. Moreover, they were once again confined to bio bubbles at every event they played in.

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Right now, Thiem is on a break from the tour and this might prove helpful as he could take time off tennis and rejuvenate himself.

DIVE DEEPER

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

5 months ago

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Bhavishya Mittal

1226 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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