Nearly three months into the virus-mandated tennis pause, Dominic Thiem is desperate enough to possibly undergo two weeks of quarantine to compete in a theoretical US Open without fans,
The ATP No. 3 Austrian was abruptly shut down only hours before the start of his Indian Wells title defence in March as the worldwide pandemic started to take hold.
With the health danger now starting to fade in much of Europe, January’s Australian Open finalist is competing this week in an all-Austria series of clay tournaments within national borders staged without fans or ballkids.
The 26-year-old said that even after returning to closed door training, the yearning to get into a competitive situation is overwhelming.
“My last match (Rio quarter-finals, February 22) was a long time ago, three months, insane.”
With the French Open – Thiem has lost the last two finals to Rafael Nadal – postponed until late September and Wimbledon cancelled nearly two months ago, the Austrian is hoping that somehow the August 31 start of the US Open will come to pass.
“A few days ago I would have said “No (chance of it being held),” he told Vienna’s Der Standard.
“Now I can imagine it. Maybe there will be ghost US Open, maybe we’ll all be quarantined two weeks before the tournaments.”
Thiem is making the best of his position as overwhelming favourite in the unofficial Austrian home tournament in Sudstadt, suburban Vienna, which offers more than 150,000 EUR in prize money.
Looking back, Thiem told the newspaper of his frustration with being unable to play for weeks on end, stuck at home near the capital..
“The Australian Open was unbelievable and exhausting with the final for body and mind. I went to Rio (clay) and wasn’t really relaxed in Los Angeles and Indian Wells (early March).
“I think I would have played quite well, but the cancellation (of ATP events just a few days prior to the start of Indian Wells) didn’t hurt me that much.
“Nobody realised that other (event cancellations) would follow. Then Miami was history.
“We flew home, and it became clear that the entire clay court season would be cancelled.
“During the first week and a half at home, I was fit and healthy, woke up in the morning and had no goal in mind for the first time in my life. That was strange.
“I wasn’t angry. Okay, I can’t do my job right now, but I’ve been so lucky in the job. Self-pity would be completely wrong.
“I accepted the situation, stayed away from family members who belong to the risk group, followed rules, washed my hands constantly. I tried to get positive things out.”
He concluded: “Tennis life is very crazy and fast-paced. I noticed that because it was suddenly gone.”