'Huge Parts Are Lost' - Dominic Thiem Opens Up On Struggles With COVID-19 Restrictions - UBITENNIS
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‘Huge Parts Are Lost’ – Dominic Thiem Opens Up On Struggles With COVID-19 Restrictions

The tennis star says ‘beautiful things’ have been taken away due to the virus as he sheds light on his own experiences.

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Reigning US Open champion Dominic Thiem says he is finding it tough playing on the Tour during the COVID-19 pandemic and has hinted that his approach to the game could change in the future.

 

The world No.4 hasn’t played since the Dubai Tennis Championships last month where he lost his opening match to South Africa’s Lloyd Harris. The Austrian then opted to have a break from the Tour. He has pulled out of this week’s Belgrade Open due to pain in his knee but is targeting a return at the Madrid Open.

2021 has been a bit of a roller-coaster for Thiem who has won five out of nine matches played so far. Although he has only won back-to-back matches in one tournament. Besides the added expectation of being one of the sports top players, Thiem has to contend with the ongoing pandemic and various regulations which are in place. Including tournament bubbles, playing being closed doors and regular testing for the virus.

Huge parts are lost. Corona has taken beautiful things, starting with traveling and moving freely. The bad things stay,” Thiem told Der Standard.
“It’s difficult to play through week after week in these circumstances. There are guys who can take it, for whom life in the bubble is probably an advantage, for example (Dan) Evans or (Alexander) Bublik. They have problems focusing on sport in normal times. It’s great for them, they concentrate exclusively on tennis, there is nothing else.’
“It was extreme in Dubai, we were locked up, but outside of it there was normal life. You were let out of the hotel at 9 p.m. and allowed to enter an empty stadium. That’s not so great.”

These usual times on the Tour has taken its toll on players mentally with Thiem admitting that he has been one of those affected. It is not the first time the 27-year-old has spoken out about bubble life and the drawbacks of not playing in front of fans.

Another issue is the unpredictability of the pandemic which threatened to disrupt the calendar at any point. The most recent victim is the French Open who has decided to postpone the start of their event by seven days. A move that has shortened the grass-court swing this season.

“I’ve had a completely planned life for as long as I can remember,” said Thiem. “Every day, every week, every month is divided. I feel better knowing what will happen the next day. That’s gone right now.”

‘Like a nuclear accident’

During the Australian Open, Thiem admits that he struggled to deal with a sudden change in circumstances. Midway through the tournament, Melbourne went into lockdown and subsequently fans were not allowed to attend the facility.

“I’m playing one of the most memorable matches in my life against local hero Kyrgios, I’m getting 2-0 down. The atmosphere in Melbourne was amazing, even though people didn’t stand by me. And suddenly there was a lockdown. I came into the locker room late at night, sweaty, and the facility was evacuated in the meantime – like a nuclear accident,” he recounts.
“The day after next against Dimitrov there was extreme midday heat in the loneliness. I didn’t make it pushing that through and dealing with the situation.”

Thiem also makes reference to football as being another sport heavily impacted by the virus. Saying he hasn’t watched the Champions League recently due to a lack of atmosphere and brands it as a ‘tragedy.’ Thiem is a Chelsea fan and has visited Sanford Bridge multiple times.

Of course, there is light at the end of the tunnel thanks to a rapid development of vaccines and better scientific understanding of how COVID-19 works. Like his peers, Thiem is eager to go back to a degree of normality but admits that his approach to the sport may be different.

I chased the big goal (of winning a Grand Slam) for 15 years without looking left or right. I achieved it – under weird circumstances, but that’s not that important to me,” he stated.
“In a way, some things fell by the wayside – private life, dealing with other things and broadening your horizons. You have to do something for your head, for your brain. There was only tennis. I want to change that a bit.“

Thiem has won 17 ATP titles so far in his career and has earned more than $28.5 million in his career.

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French Open Chief: Roger Federer Would have Won Multiple French Open Titles If It Wasn’t For Nadal

Guy Forget also predicts how far the 39-year-old could go in the draw this year.

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The decision by Roger Federer to play at the French Open is the most logical step ahead of Wimbledon, according to tournament director Guy Forget.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match on the surface since June 2019. Last year he missed most the season due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year he has only played in one tournament which was at the Qatar Open where he reached the semi-finals.

Federer will return to the court next week at the Geneva Open in his native Switzerland. It is the only event he will play before heading to Roland Garros. An event he had only played in once out of the past five editions. Forget, who is a former top 10 player himself, believes the match play is exactly what Federer needs.

“That Roger comes to play Roland Garros seems logical to me. This will allow him to play, and especially to test himself. Clay is a surface that requires you to be precise in your movements. The better Federer is at Roland Garros, the better he will be at Wimbledon,” he told reporters earlier this week.

The Swiss Maestro has only won the French Open once in his career which was back in 2009. Although he has reached the final on four other occasions. It was at the 1999 French Open where he made his main draw debut in a major at the age of 17. Overall, 11 out of Federer’s 103 ATP titles have been won on the clay.

However, Forget believes Federer would have won many more French Open titles if it wasn’t for the formidable Rafael Nadal. A player who has won more ATP trophies on the dirt than any other player in history, including 13 at the French Open alone.

“If Rafael Nadal hadn’t existed Federer would have had at least 5 or 6 titles at Roland, I’m sure of that.” Forget commented.
“Regarding this edition, I think it can happen that he could go into the second week.” He added.

Federer has lost to Nadal in all six of their meetings at the French Open – four times in the final and twice in the semi-finals. He trails their overall head-to-head 16-24.

The French Open will get underway on May 30th.

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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