Dominic Thiem is struggling with pandemic-related ’emptiness’, but plans to return to the clay-court in Madrid in early May once a knee pain dissipates, he told an Austrian newspaper Monday.
After winning the US Open against Alexander Zverev in September, Thiem said he was full of “euphoria”, but “in preparing for this season, I fell into a hole.”
“There is a certain emptiness, though it’s not dramatic. Last week, I didn’t even watch the football Champions League because it’s such a tragedy,” he said, adding that he “barely followed” the tennis tournament in Monte Carlo, which he had decided to sit out.
The world number four spoke of the mental strain of the pandemic in an interview with Austrian newspaper Der Standard published on Monday.
“Huge parts of the job are missing,” the 27-year-old said.
“Corona has taken away the good things starting with the travelling, the free movement. The bad things remain. It is difficult to play week after week under these circumstances.
“I think the pandemic is just an additional part of it all,” the 27-year-old said. “If I had won the US Open last year in normal circumstances, things would have continued normally but I would have still been in the same state as I am in now.”
When asked if the winning the US Open had taken a toll on him mentally, the Austrian said more than that it had helped to reassess his priorities.
“I spent 15 years chasing the big goal without looking to the left or the right. As I said, I achieved it,” he said.
“But that’s not so important to me. In a way, some things have fallen by the wayside. My private life, dealing with other things, broadening my horizons. You have to do something for your head, for your brain. There was only tennis. I want to change that a bit.”
Looking ahead, Thiem said that one of his biggest goals was to win the French Open. He has been a finalist at Roland Garros on two occasions – 2018 and 2019.
“The French Open is my big goal,” he asserted.
“Obviously, I have a training backlog. I haven’t had matches against absolute top players for a long time, they are missing. I don’t know where I stand. I hope I’ll get to play some in Madrid and Rome. I want to be fully competitive in Paris, that is my ambition.”