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Dubai tennis: Dominic Thiem wants to change the theme ahead of clay season

Dominic Thiem serves during his match at the Dubai tennis on Tuesday. (Supplied photo)
Dominic Thiem serves during his match at the Dubai tennis on Tuesday. (Supplied photo)

Dubai - Thiem lost in straight sets to unheralded South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in the second round

By James Jose

Published: Wed 17 Mar 2021, 8:53 PM

Last updated: Wed 17 Mar 2021, 9:06 PM

World No.4 Dominic Thiem revealed that he will skip the Miami Open next week to sort of reset so that he can be ready and raring to go for the claycourt season that begins next month.

Thiem’s second Dubai sojourn ended even before it started, with the top seed going down in straight sets to unheralded South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in the second round of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

And the Austrian revealed that a combination of factors was behind his defeat and said that he was not happy with his level of play at the moment.

“I liked to play a lot when I was younger but now, I just really need to reset myself to go fresh going into the clay season,” said Thiem.

“Obviously, right now I’m in a tough period and it wouldn't be the right thing to go to Miami. I am looking to reset and regroup and hopefully have a good clay season. After these tough weeks, that’s my main goal now,” he added.

Thiem, the 2020 US Open champion, has been nursing a foot injury since the Vienna Open late last year but he said that had no part to play in his loss here in Dubai.

“Today (Tuesday), there was no pain at all in the foot. It is on and off and maybe I’ll do a quick check, a quick MRI to see how it’s feeling but that’s not the main issue. It is just that I’m not playing well, in general. It has been a tough period for me, and I need to see that I start fresh and am ready for the clay season, wherever I play,” the two-time French Open runner-up said.

Thiem, who had lost to clay court king Spaniard Rafael Nadal on both those occasions in 2018 and 2019, will be looking to get going on clay next month in the build-up to Roland Garros, in May-June.

The clay season begins with the Andalucia Open in Marbella, Spain, but the big ones obviously are the Monte-Carlo Masters, the Madrid Open and the Italian Open, all ATP 1000 events.

Thiem did miss the fantastic crowd that assembles in Dubai but said that wasn’t the reason for his lacklustre showing and added that he hasn’t been in the greatest of shapes.

“It’s always better when there is a crowd around and there is a nice atmosphere. But it doesn't matter because I am not 100% ready. I have to be 100% ready even when the stadium is empty. Right now, I’m just not in the greatest shape and it doesn’t matter whether you’re playing in the current or crazy conditions,” Thiem said.

This was his second appearance in Dubai and Thiem said that the court felt as quick as it was back in 2015. He had lost to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round, back then.

“The court is pretty quick, and it was quick as well in 2015. And I was ready for that and I got used to that in the last stage of practice. The fast court helps a player who has a good serve,” he said.

“I struggled to return his (Harris’) serve and there were too many mistakes from the baseline on my part. I said a couple of days ago if I’m not playing my best level, it’s not enough against all the players in the draw,” added Thiem.


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