Pressure from the fast-approaching French Open is driving the knee injury recovery of Dominic Thiem who is desperate to put up a good showing next month at the major where he played two finals against Rafael Nadal.
The Austrian has not competed in the six weeks since he took an opening loss in Dubai, then retreated to Europe burned out by the sport and the onerous COVID precautions taken by tournaments.
After several weeks of rest and a disconnect from tennis, Thiem is now back in training, with coach Nicolas Massu joining him recently from Chile.
But Thiem told Austria’s ORF that his confidence remains a sticking point due to bothersome pain in both knees.
“The first days of training have been very difficult. My whole body ached and I did not hit the ball well, but I was improving little by little,” the No. 4 said.
“I’ve put in a few days of intense, long training; I’m feeling ready to compete at a high level
“The fact that Roland Garros, 2021, is close (May 30 start) has driven me to work hard and feel motivated.”
The Austrian added: “The level on the ATP is so high that if you are not 100 per cent you lose matches.”
Thiem explained his knee concerns.”I have pain in both knees, it can be very stressful, but I know there is no risk of it getting worse.
“It’s annoying and nothing more.”
He characterised his condition as “improving, the pain only appears after more than two hours or so of intense training.
“But I’m feeling better and I hope to be free of pain soon.”