Dominic Thiem, the US Open champion and one of the few candidates who can hope to rock the apple cart of Rafael Nadal in the upcoming French Open, has more questions than answers to his game at the moment. The claycourt slam gets under way on May 24.
A foot injury had sidelined the Austrian for two months - robbing him of valuable match practice - while Thiem’s form had been not exactly consistent on his comeback. The 27-year-old made an encouraging return, making the semi-finals in Madrid earlier this month, but then lost in the third round in Rome last week and took a wildcard for Lyon to get some matches under his belt before the claycourt major.
The world number four, however, lost to Britain’s Cameron Norrie in his opening match in Lyon. “It was a huge disappointment just now. Just also a big ... step backwards after promising tournaments in Madrid and Rome,” Thiem told reporters after his 6-3 6-2 defeat to world number 49 Norrie on Thursday.
“I don’t really know why. I was preparing well here, practising well and just didn’t find any rhythm, any strokes.
“I was hoping to take the little positive signs from Madrid and Rome here, but it didn’t work out. I have to analyse now and look (towards) Roland Garros.” After the high of winning his maiden Grand Slam in New York last year, Thiem has had a difficult 2021 season.
The Austrian had one win in two matches in the ATP Cup before a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open. Thiem then lost in the quarter-final in Doha and bowed out in his first match in Dubai the following week.
“It’s not good for the confidence. To be honest, the way I played today, I was expecting that to come more in Madrid because I hadn’t played for so long,” said Thiem.
“But now I was back in the match rhythm and actually hoping for good tennis. I need to find a way back somehow.
“The next match is already the first round at Roland Garros and until that day I need to hopefully sort it out.”
Cameron Norrie (GBR) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT x1) 6-3, 6-2
Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) bt Jannik Sinner (ITA x6) 6-7 (7/9), 6-2, 7-5
Richard Gasquet (FRA) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG x3) 6-3, 7-5
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) bt Gael Monfils (FRA x5) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/2)
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x2) bt Tommy Paul (USA) 6-1, 6-4