Dominic Thiem – why the comeback for the 2020 US Open champion is so modest

Estoril last Tuesday, just before 7.30pm. Dominic Thiem misses a forehand, lowers his head, goes to the net. Again, he must congratulate an opponent on the victory. This time it is Benjamin Bonzi, number 58 on the rankings.

That in advance annoyed the Austrian enormously. “I’m mad,” Thiem said at the news conference. The shot finally worked again in the second set against Bonzi, but he did not reach into the third set.

Before the defeat against the French, Thiem had also failed at the Challenger tournament in Marbella and at the ATP tournament in Belgrade.

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Opponents – World Rankings-228. Pedro Cachin and John Millman, number 80 on the rankings – were by no means impossible tasks.

Actually. Because Thiem’s ​​comeback has an increased degree of difficulty. Even before his wrist injury in June 2021, the results were no longer correct. After the New York coup and before the 2021 season, “he fell into a hole,” the tennis star reported. There is a “certain emptiness”. The mental challenges were reflected in the performance. He has not won a tournament since the US Open more than a year and a half ago.

Thiem: “Playing before Roland Garros every week”

The wrist problems aggravated the problems massively. In December, he wanted to return and serve at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Nothing came of it. He felt “not yet ready to compete at the highest level,” Thiem said on record, also failing to travel to the Australian Open.

But he would like to take part in the French Open, which starts on 22 May. “I plan to play before Roland Garros every week,” Thiem said. But he is still far from the Grand Slam form, which also has to do with uncertainties.

“I’m not sure about my game and my physical condition,” admitted the Austrian, who has meanwhile fallen to 93rd place in the world rankings. Understandable when Thiem had to cope with a corona infection after Challenger in Marbella. It’s over, but Father Wolfgang made it clear in an interview with the “Kleine Zeitung” that the son still lacks “the last mobility” to become the old man again.

Game practice, forehand, reaction time – what causes Thiem problems

Uncertainty and as a result not full confidence in his own body – a construction site that Thiem should close in the coming weeks with increasing combat training. This should solve another problem that plagues the former number three in the world: the lost sense of the situation.

Thiem clarifies: Therefore, his comeback was delayed

The 28-year-old complained after the defeat in Estoril against Bonzi that he made “stupid mistakes”, made “stupid decisions in important situations”. Thiem was referring primarily to his three set balls, which he was unable to use in the tie-break in the second round. Nevertheless, “some progress was made” in that sentence. This includes the forehand, which got better again, even though it failed him on match points for Bonzi.

The wrist no longer causes him problems. Something else on the other hand. “Response time and expectation” is not yet 100 percent, Thiem admitted in Estoril. The early exit hurts, but he is now making further attempts at the Masters competitions in Madrid and Rome. Then he wants to be in “decent shape” at the French Open.

Great performance? Thiem is aiming for the second half of the season

“I’m certainly not one of the favorites in Roland-Garros, but maybe I can win a few matches,” the 2018-2019 finalist said modestly. “To achieve great things, I have to wait until the second half of the season.”

Patience is certainly not a bad idea – until the magical moment comes, as the former French Open doubles champion Jürgen Melzer so beautifully put into words in relation to the “standard” for Thiem: “At some point in the course of the match, the handbrake was released.”

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