Dominic Thiem has returned to the Tour at the Madrid Masters after a six-week pause – but Austrian ranked fourth is maintaining focus on the big clay target of Roland Garros.

“My goal is to get a lot of matches against top players until the French Open, to give myself the best chance possible there,” the two-time Madrid finalist said on Saturday.

“It’s the same like every year, it’s the same before every Grand Slam. It’s so tough to go deep there. It’s so tough to win it,” added the two-time Paris finalist against Rafael Nadal.

“Once I arrive at Roland Garros, I want to be in the best physical shape, in the best tennis shape, so I can give myself the best chances to go deep there.”

Thiem has been off the Tour since an early loss in mid-March in Dubai. That defeat was a clue as to his physical and mental burnout after an equally modest Australian Open (fourth-round loss to Grigor Dimitrov).

He went home to Vienna and put the racquet down for several weeks to give mind and body a pause.

“The break was good, I also needed it,” he said. “But now it’s also time to be back.

“Madrid is a great place for me. I have only good memories from the tournament, (Fast, altitude) conditions are amazing for my game.

“The results here were always so good in the past years. I’m happy to be back here and hope that I can also play well.”

The Austrian fully expects that top seed and five-time champion Rafael Nadal will remain the target for all competitors.

“He’s improving his game constantly, that’s also what you need to do to be successful every new year.

“That’s why he’s such a great role model.”

Thiem said the audience – even limited – for the event is a massive positive.

“When I arrived on site for the first time, I saw people on the stands, which was pretty new for me,” he said of WTA matches already underway.

“Except Australia, there was nowhere a crowd. But the stands here were pretty full. I think 30 to 40 per cent is quite a lot.

“I can’t wait to play in front of people again.”


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