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Dominic Thiem: the ex-US Open champion’s comeback plan is in place – but it will be a rocky road back

Dominic Thiem looked tidy, almost a little relaxed.

Although the 28-year-old had canceled his participation in the tournament in Abu Dhabi the day before, he sprayed slight optimism at the media round on Wednesday, to which he was connected live from Dubai.

“The whole process is going completely according to plan. I’m painless, but I’m still a little behind in training. At a different exhibition than in Abu Dhabi, where very, very serious tennis and basically normal matches like on the tour are played, I would have We have decided that I will only go on the field if I can do 100 percent of the forehand again. Currently I’m at around 80 percent, “he explained.

Australian Open

Grand Slam comeback at the Australian Open? Thiem is committed

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Less than 24 hours earlier, Thiem had announced that he had to postpone his comeback on the tour because he “didn’t feel ready to compete at the highest level yet.”

Thiem confirms Australian Open participation

The 2020 US Open champion caused speculation as to whether this could already be a sign of a possible cancellation of the Australian Open in Melbourne (January 17-30).

However, the Austrian relegated such assumptions to the realm of fables. When asked whether he would serve at the first Grand Slam of the new year, he replied: “One hundred percent. Even if I didn’t play a match beforehand, nothing stands in the way of going to the Australian Open.”

Thiem played his last game on the tour in June this year in Mallorca. He has long been struggling with a tear in the tendon sheath and the joint capsule. In the 2021 calendar year, the right-hander only played 18 games, half of which he won.

Despite his recent tournament cancellation in Abu Dhabi, Thiem has a clear comeback plan in mind. “The ATP Cup (January 1st – 9th, 2022; Anm. d. Red.) is definitely my goal now. I hope I can play there. If things continue like this, as in the last few days and weeks, when there has been progress almost every day, I am optimistic that I will start the new season at the ATP Cup, “he said confidently.

Thiem’s ​​first opponent would be none other than the reigning US Open winner Daniil Medvedev from Russia.

Daniil Medvedev (left) and Dominic Thiem

Fotocredit: Getty Images

Thiem’s ​​fight against the blockage in the head

In the meantime he has even started to incorporate forehand drills in training with coach Nicolás Massú (forehand cross and forehand longline). “I can train well and have a number of training matches in my legs and in my wrist,” said the 28-year-old happily. Only with other players has he not yet had a training session.

While from a sporting point of view things seem to be steadily increasing, there is a bigger question mark behind the mental state of the long-term injured person.

“The hardest thing is getting the injury out of my head when you hit me. The tendon didn’t tear once, but twice – that’s still very much in my head. I don’t have any pain in my wrist, I would even say that it is stronger and more flexible than ever before. However, I still have a blockage in my head. But I am quite sure that the moment will come in the coming weeks when the blockage will be resolved, “assured Thiem.

After all, he is only able to play in the absolute top of the world if he is 100 percent involved in the match. “It’s a little different with other players who can save themselves with their serve or their talent. I can’t. I have to be there one hundred percent. That is of course very exhausting, but I don’t think that anything can be done about it . I still hope that I can squeeze out a few more good years, “emphasized last year’s finalist at the Australian Open.

Dominic Thiem

Fotocredit: Getty Images

Thiem stacks deep: “It will be a rocky road back”

However, the Lower Austrian does not have great expectations of his comeback, be it at the ATP Cup or the Australian Open.

“It’s the first time I’ve come back from such a long injury break, so my expectations are not exaggerated. I don’t expect to stay in the tournament long, I hope that a little later next year,” replied he on Eurosport demand.

After all, Thiem also knows that the competition, especially the young and wild ones around Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Medvedev, are not sleeping.

“Of course the others have developed further in my absence and it will definitely be a rocky way back. Especially because at the beginning I will meet the best earlier due to my low placement in the seeding list”, the current number 15 in the world rankings dampened expectations : “It seems to me as if it was yesterday that I contested the whole way – when I was young and not yet placed that high in the ranking. At that time I had to fight my way up and made it. I see something similar it now too. “

Even if Thiem may have slipped a few places in the world rankings, it is clear that he has not lost any of his fighting spirit and optimism.

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