In a recent Ö3 interview in the Spanish capital, the Lower Austrian talked about his status quo and in addition to focusing on the continuous improvements also about his level of frustration. “Of course it is difficult, because with every shot that fails, it immediately comes to my mind how I would have played the shot before the injury, or when I was the best. There is still such a big difference that it is extremely difficult to accept, “Lichtenwörther admitted.
Thiem, who was recently at the stadium for the Champions League semi-final between Real and Manchester City in Madrid, is nonetheless confident about the upcoming Masters tournament in Rome. The winner of the US Open in 2020 also recently completed his training sessions in the Italian capital. Opponent in the first round is the local hero Fabio Fognini.
The most important thing for Thiem is the daily improvements. He no longer feels a “mental barrier due to his wrist injury” in June last year. “That with the head is actually over now, and the fear that there may be something in the wrist is completely gone. But sometimes I play good points and the last shot starves the net or is three meters out, it’s definitely extremely frustrating. “
Case out of Top 100 “completely ready”
On the other hand, Thiem is not at all shocked that he will fly out of the top 100 on Monday for the first time since March 2014. “It was quite clear that this would happen at some point. That is the logical consequence of how the ranking works. ” He does not know how long he was number one in Austria. “But it’s good that it’s going to be different,” joked Thiem, who as 162nd has only been the third-best Austrian behind Yuri Rodionov (130th) and Dennis Novak (140th) since Monday.
If you say that after such long injuries, you have to learn “ABC” again, so to speak, then the 17-time ATP tournament winner does not look very far. “I’m with D just like Dominic I would say. It’s not only about the forehand, it’s also about how I make the points, how I move, how I anticipate, how I assess difficult situations. But it’s clear anyway.”
It will certainly not be easy against the local hero Fognini in Rome, even though Thiem is 3-1 ahead in mutual battle. The 34-year-old Italian is number 56 on the world rankings and thus far ahead of his opponent. Thiem won the last duel in Madrid the round of 16 in 2019, that is, on sand. Fognini’s biggest success this year was reaching the semi-finals in February in Rio de Janeiro. If Thiem wins, another active player from the host country can wait in number ten seeded Jannik Sinner from South Tyrol.
Thiem receives encouragement from Nadal
Thiem also received indirect encouragement from superstar Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard, who made an adventure comeback with the title at the Australian Open after a long injury hiatus, does not even allow a comparison with Thiem. “This is not the time to put pressure on Dominic, nor is it fair to compare him to me,” the 21-time Major winner said recently in Madrid.
It is true that it was something special in his career that he could come back many times. “But it is not normal when you come back from a long time without matches. It’s normal that it’s a process, and Dominic is going through it now. “
However, the Spaniard expects Thiem again in the future: “I have no doubt that if he is healthy, he will return next week at Roland Garros and if not at Wimbledon or afterwards. It’s time, “Nadal said.” If Thiem really has the will and the passion to continue, then he has no doubt that Thiem will return to his former level.