Thiem: “Madrid is a great place for me”

Antonio Arenas Men's Tennis, Mutua News, Tennis

Dominic Thiem returns to competition at the #MMOPEN after hitting the pause button and returning home to make preparations for the clay swing. The Austrian, No. 3 seed at the Mutua Madrid Open, decided to take a rest in mid-March after picking up some niggles and is feeling refreshed upon his return. There is no better place than Madrid to step back out onto the courts.

“The break was good”, explained Thiem to the press during Media Day. “I also needed it. But now it’s also time to be back. I think Madrid is a great place for me. I have only good memories of this tournament.”

“Conditions are amazing for my game. The results were always so good in the past years. I’m happy to be back here and hope that I can also play well”, continued the world number four, finalist in the Caja Mágica in 2017 (lost to Rafa Nadal) and 2018 (defeated by Alexander Zverev). Thiem also reached the semis in 2019, where he would succumb to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. That year, he also reached the doubles final with close friend Diego Schwartzman.

The Caja Mágica has invited fans back for this year’s tournament. Something that was always taken for granted before the pandemic, is now a gift for the players. “It’s so nice”, admitted Thiem. “I was just driving into the site for the first time, saw people in the stands, which was pretty new again for me. Except Australia, there were no crowds anywhere. I can’t wait to play in front of people again”, he recognised later.

Champion of the 2020 US Open, Thiem is held in new esteem as he arrives in Madrid, where he has done something that very few players have managed in the capital of tennis since the tournament moved to clay in 2009; he has beaten Rafa Nadal (2018 quarter-finals).

Tennis fans may also be interested in another of Thiem’s achievements; he is one of two players with at least five victories over every member of the Big 3 (the other is Andy Murry). These include six wins over Nadal -four on clay-, including their last two clashes (the Spaniard leads their head-to-head 9-6). Thiem has nothing but admiration for Nadal.

“Rafa, I think he’s improving his game constantly. I first played him seven years ago in the French Open. I think since that time he has improved every part of his game. That’s also what you need to do to be successful every new year. That’s why he’s such a great role model”. Finding themselves on the same side of the draw, Thiem and Nadal could meet in the semi-finals.