Dominic Thiem has granted an interview with Punto de Break in Barcelona, where he will compete in the Conde de Godó, starting on Tuesday.
At 21 years old, Dominic Thiem (No. 43 in the ATP rankings) is one of the players with the highest projection in world tennis. One day before his first match in the Conde de Godó against Victor Estrella Burgos, the young Austrian granted an interview with Punto de Break in the area reserved for players and coaches of the Royal Tennis Club of Barcelona.
A frequent user of social networks, he smiles when we ask him about the term “Bamos” which he frequently uses in his posts. “I know that’s not how it’s spelled,” he tells us while heading to the tables by around the pool.
What memories do you have of Spain in and away from the competition?
The majority are good memories. The first time that I came to Spain was to play junior tournaments. Last year, I came to Barcelona and Madrid where I had some very successful weeks. In Madrid, I beat Wawrinka, which was the first victory of my career against a top 10 player.
How long ago did you start doing your pre-season training in Tenerife?
Since four years ago. Tenerife is a great place, and it was a great time in December. It’s the perfect place to do pre-season training and it’s not too far from Europe (continental).
Why did you choose Tenerife?
Because Michal Novotny, the physiotherapist of Ernests Gulbis (with whom I shared a coach until a few months ago), had a centre there. It’s a good place.
I would like for you to explain to me what you military service in Austria consisted of. Have you already finished it?
Still no. I will finish it on April 31st. The first four weeks were very hard, because I had to be there all the time. Now, it’s fine because I can leave to play all the tournaments.
What did your military service consist of after the first four weeks?
If I’m in Vienna, I have to present myself at 7:30 in the morning.
Did you receive any special treatment for being an elite athlete?
No, I probably received worse treatment (laughing). I didn’t receive any special treatment.
You’ve changed your racquet this season (from Head Prestige to Babolat Pure Strike). Why?
I started to try out the new one in December, because I finished my contract with Head. I liked the new racquet a lot from the start. I started to play more with it and now I enjoy it a lot.
Your results in the first weeks of the year weren’t good. Have you completely adapted to the new racquet?
Yeah, it’s always difficult to change your racket and stringing, but now I’m completely adapted and I like it.
Have you noticed any change in your relationship with your coach Gunter Bresnik since the split with Gulbis and now he only coaches you?
I don’t think there is anything different, because I’ve been with him 11 or 12 years and in the first 9 or 10 I was also the only one with him.
He doesn’t dedicate more time to coach just one player?
Yes, of course, but we always practice all together, so it is the same.
You know Gulbis well. How would you describe his personality away from the court?
He is a good guy, but maybe he doesn’t want to show it. He has an interesting personality. I’ve learned a lot from him. It’s great sharing time with him.
And how is Thiem away from the court?
I think I’m a good guy and I like to show it, unlike Ernests (Gulbis). I have easy-going character. I don’t like complications.
When you were a kid, you used to play with a two-handed backhand. You changed it to a one-hander with Gunter. Was it a successful decision considering the way tennis has evolved?
Now I think it was a successful decision. It was difficult during the first years. I think that now I have a very good backhand. Maybe it made sense to change precisely because in modern tennis there is, mostly, two-handed backhands. That is an advantage for those of us that have one-handed backhands, because we have more variety, an easier effort, and can get to more balls… Each time there are less players with one-handed backhands and those of us that maintain it have an advantage.
It wasn’t long ago that you were playing junior tournaments. What are the most important differences that you noticed in the jump to professionalism?
It’s very hard, because as a junior, if you are good, you are already a star. You go to nice hotels… Then you got to play Futures and it’s completely different. You have to live by yourself. It’s not easy.
What is your main goal in tennis?
I think the main goal of any player is to win a Grand Slam. It’s the biggest thing that you can get in tennis.
Which is your favorite Grand Slam?
And what do you think you need to improve to reach this goal?
Everything. There is nothing that I can’t improve. I should work hard each day so that I will be able to reach my goals.
And that’s Dominic Thiem, the good guy that writes “Bamos” and dreams of winning Roland Garros.
Translated by jpine