Thiem failed in Madrid in the second round, but the way the local tennis fans are hoping that the former third in the world rankings will find his way back to his old strength. The current number five in the world, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, lost the Lower Austrian after a hard fight in three sets.
“The match was probably the best since the injury. Although it was bitter, it was really good to keep up with an absolute top man for so long. After the match, there was a real sense of optimism because I knew everything was still there,” said Thiem. “I haven’t felt for a long time that I can play like this.” This week he wants to build on that in Austria when Thiem is number one at the Challenger tournament in Mauthausen (live on ORF Sport + from Friday).
The big interview: Thiem’s way back to the top
Dominik Thiem is again at a new level of performance. Many changes have already had positive effects in Madrid.
Madrid was the next step in the right direction for now. “It was another turning point. The spirit of optimism has been there since Indian Wells and Miami, where everything has gotten a little better. In Estoril I won matches again, then the change of coach, and since then I’ve felt an upward trend,” Thiem outlined, stating: “There haven’t been such great advances as recently.”
Ebrahimzadeh hit Thiem’s nerve
The exchange of coaches mentioned by Lichtenwörther took place in Estoril at the beginning of April. The Chilean Nicolas Massu was followed by the German-Iranian Benjamin Ebrahimzadeh, who obviously struck a chord. “We had a long conversation. The way he then told me how he saw me as a player, where there was a lack, what I had to do to reach my performance limit – that’s when a switch flipped in me. I got me I thought something’s right. I got into a comfort zone without knowing it. It took someone from the outside to talk straight to me – the most important point.”
The separation from Massu, with whom Thiem celebrated victory at the US Open and thus the high point of his career, went “very well”. “We both felt that something new was needed. It wasn’t easy to work with me then, he also ran out of energy.” With Ebrahimzadeh, not only did the necessary intensity return. “Just the way I have the ball back on my racket feels completely different. It feels like my tennis, and it’s fun to torture yourself again.”
Reaching the power limit “the most important thing”
The “slack” that had crept in unconsciously has given way to “fire and fun”. Now Thiem has a crystal clear goal in mind again. “I just want to get back to my own performance limit, that’s the most important thing for me. I once played tennis sensationally, that was lost, of course also because of the injury, but also for other reasons, because I was no longer able to achieve my maximum performance in training.
Thiem motivated again
Dominic Thiem is enjoying tennis again. After the change of coach and recent strong performances, the former US Open champion hopes to be able to build on earlier successes soon.
After half a year with only one win, Thiem recently celebrated six match successes on various levels within a month. “I feel that I can get back to my performance limit. That’s incredibly motivating.” The 17-time tournament winner doesn’t have his sights set on a specific world ranking. “When the services fit again, it comes into play on its own.”
Olympia 2024 “as the greatest goal”
The next big goal is the French Open in Paris, which starts in three weeks. “I will certainly not be set, that’s why it will be difficult, but if I continue like this, I can certainly cause surprises.” In a year the Olympic Games will also take place at the same place, which will also motivate Thiem.
“The Olympics are perhaps the biggest goal for me because I’ve never been there. Paris is a great city for that, it’s played in Roland Garros, which I also have good memories of. I’d like to be there, maybe I’ll have reached my performance limit by then,” said Thiem, who was in the French Open final twice.
The present is called Mauthausen for the time being, where Thiem competes in front of a home crowd. “It will be very different from Madrid of course. I wasn’t under any pressure, now I’ll be seeded number one. The focus is on me, the opponents will be highly motivated. But now it’s just a matter of concentrating on what has worked well in the past few weeks.”
ATP Challenger 100 tournament in Mauthausen
(Austria, 118,000 euros, sand)