Dominic Thiem is hoping to get back on track at the Madrid Open following a turbulent start to the season. At the Australian Open earlier this year, he reached only the fourth round before getting knocked out. After an early exit in Dubai Tennis Championships in March, Thiem decided to take a break. “The break was good and I also needed it but now it is time to be back,” Thiem said.
“I think Madrid is a great place for me. I only have good memories of this tournament,” he added during his pre-tournament press conference on Saturday. “Conditions are amazing for my game and my results in the past have always been so good. I’m happy to be back here and hope I can play well.”
The World No.4 has been a runner-up in the tournament to Rafael Nadal in 2017 and Alexander Zverev a year later. Even in 2019, his semifinal run was halted by World No.1 Novak Djokovic. The 27-year-old is now trying to keep himself at the best possible shape before the French Open begins.
“I was doing a lot of physical and tennis practice. I think I’m on a good level,” he stated. “My goal is to get a lot of matches against top players until the French Open. It’s the same as every Grand Slam, it’s so tough to go deep and win it. But once I arrive at Roland Garros I want to be in the best shape and give myself the best chances.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced this year’s Madrid Open to take place under stricter rules. The attendance has been cut to 40% of its usual capacity and a curfew is also in place.
“We were in the first lockdown which was really really strict. We weren’t even allowed to go to the tennis courts back then,” Thiem recalls. “I was just doing physical practice. Now I’m in a better shape than 12 months ago which was a new situation for everybody.”
Thiem is seeded third in the men’s draw has been placed in the top half. He could potentially face Rafael Nadal in the semifinal. “I first played him in Roland Garros (2014) and since that time he’s improved every part of his game,” Thiem said of the Spaniard. That’s what you need to do to be successful every year and that’s why he’s such a great role model.”