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Dominic Thiem’s retun to his best level takes more time than expected. The two last seasons weren’t a success ; 2023 might be his chance to instill a new dynamic in his career. Despite a few difficult first months, every tournament is a new opportunity for the Austrian player.

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The turning point of the 2020 US Open

After three consecutive failures in Grand Slam finals, Dominic Thiem finally fulfilled his dream at the 2020 US Open. Down two sets to love against Alexander Zverev, he managed to win the match 2/4 4/6 6/4 6/3 7/6. He has never played at this level since the greatest victory of his life. After having reached the goal of a life, only one question remained: Why keep going?

It is easy to normalize the achievements of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. They have marked the history of tennis with an almost total hegemony for almost 20 years. By turn, they kept on winning Grand Slam after Grand Slam, without loosing their motivation. The first one was guided by his quest of perfection, the second one by his limitless abnegation and the third one by his love for records. The ability to win every time without doubting, isn’t given to everybody. Dominic Thiem’s journey is the proof.

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The beginning of his 2021 season was made of disappointing results. He had reached no finals before arriving at Roland Garros. Against all odds, he was eliminated in the first round. Two times finalist, in 2018 and 2019, this loss highlighted the rough time that Dominic Thiem was going through. A few weeks later, he forfeited at the Mallorca Open because of a right wrist injury.

A slow return to competition

It’s only on March 29, 2022 that Dominic Thiem played his next match on the professional tour. He had a string of seven consecutive defeats before winning his first match at the Salzbourg Challenger on July 5, 2022. During the summer, the former world number three made huge progress. He multiplied encouraging results at ATP 250 events ; and he reached a semi-final in Gstaad where he fell to Matteo Berrettini. After a short American swing – a fourth round in Winston Salem and a first round at the US Open – Dominic Thiem focused on European tournaments. He reached two other semi-finals in Gijon and Antwerp.

The off-season break was a huge stake with an uncertain outcome. Would it allow Dominic Thiem to improve his fitness for the start of 2023? Or would it put an end to the positive dynamic of the last tournaments of 2022? Unfortunately, the last option won.

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Since the beginning of the 2023 season, Dominic Thiem won a single match and lost seven of them. These disappointing results could be explained by a lack of grip on his matches. He often plays several meters behind his baseline which prevents him from enforcing his rhythm. Even if his one-handed backhand down the line is still astonishing, his devastating spin forehand lost its explosiveness. With more confidence, Dominic Thiem should be able to find his former efficiency.

Currently 106th in the ATP Rankings, the Austrian still has a long way to go if he wants to reach the heights of world tennis. After his victory at the US Open, he was unable to set a meaningful goal, but it is now obvious: to recover his past prestige. To do so, Dominic Thiem will have to hit every ball with conviction and keep hope alive.

2020 US Open : Dominic Thiem clinches his first Grand Slam title

Marnie Abbou

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