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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday April 19, 2021

It has been a difficult 2021 season for Dominic Thiem, and the Austrian has felt the need, for the first time in his career, to take the blinders off and take a good look around at the world.

Tennis Express

In interview with Der Standard, Thiem talked about his desire to decompress after achieving his ultimate goal at the US Open in 2020 and also suffering through a litany of injuries that have left him hobbled as the clay court season begins in 2021.

Thiem also said that the pandemic has played a role in his ennui and he’s certainly not alone there.

“I spent 15 years chasing the big goal without looking left or right,” Thiem said. “As I said, I achieved it—under strange circumstances, but that’s not so important to me. In a way, some things have fallen by the wayside—the private life, dealing with other things, broadening the horizon. You have to do something for your head, for your brain. There was only tennis. I want to change that a bit.”

Thiem says that he fell into a dark “hole” this season, and he talked about the pandemic, and the bubble life that persists on tour, as a key contributing factor.

“In the preparation for this season, I fell into a hole,” he said. “Whether the looseness will come, we will see, I don’t know, I hope so. I think the pandemic is an additional part of the whole [issue]. … When you spend your whole life chasing your one very big goal, subordinate everything to it, and then achieve it, for a while things aren’t the same as they were before. That’s normal. The problem in tennis is that it’s so fast-paced and goes on week after week.”

Still targeting Roland-Garros and Olympics

Thiem is still adamant that he wants to achieve his life-long dream of winning Roland-Garros, and he also wants to take a crack at the Olympics, but before any of that can happen, he must get healthy. At the moment a knee injury is slowing his progress, and it caused him to pull out of Belgrade this week.

“There are little problems, now it’s the left knee,” he said. “Last year, during the first lockdown, I had the same thing in my right knee. It didn’t matter, I didn’t have to cancel any tournaments because there weren’t any. I’ve had some time to heal it. It’s a congenital issue in the knees that comes up every now and then. Now the public is learning it. It takes a couple of weeks to be pain-free. It’s been bothering me since Australia, but it’s just a little ache that will heal.”

Thiem still remains focused on a return to the norm in the coming months. Perhaps by then he will have remedied his current psychological state and dialed back into his “all tennis, all the time” mode. He appears to believe it will happen.

“The French Open is my big goal,” he said. “Of course, I have a big training backlog. I haven’t had any matches against absolute top players for a long time, they are missing. I don’t know where I stand. I hope that will come in Madrid and in Rome. I want to be fully competitive in Paris, that’s my ambition. A medal at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo would be an absolute dream – if they take place. I’d like to know, but that’s up to the pandemic. In any case, I won’t let it take away my desire to play tennis. Because normality will return at some point.”


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