Dominic Thiem admits that life inside the strict COVID-19 bubble at the ATP Finals is a massive mental strain.

The US Open champion who started the eight-man event on Sunday in London with a 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 group defeat of holder Stefanos Tsitsipas, said that this crowd-free edition at the Oz Arena is like no other.

“The bubble life is exhausting,” the ATP No. 3 admitted. “Physically this has been the easiest year in a long time (due to a five-month total Tour tennis shutdown).

“Today was just my 30th match of the season – not a big number.

“But mentally, it’s tough. You usually get a lot of positive energy from the fans, here you have to generate it yourself all the time.

“You always have to push yourself, it’s exhausting.”

Dominic Thiem says quarantine rules in London are tough. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

The 27-year-old said that the requirement to stay in a hotel room whenever not on court is also no great joy.

“The city can give you energy, hanging with people you love… it’s a strange situation we are in – but we have to deal with it.”

One of the oddest parts of the experience is the obligation to be driven in a tournament car from the hotel next door to the arena itself, a walking distance of perhaps 200 metres.

“We can’t be near to any people not related to tennis,” he said. “I get maybe two or three minutes of fresh air per day, and no sunlight at all.

“But still, this is a great event that we are glad to be playing.”

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