PARIS, France (AFP) — It took Dominic Thiem 26 attempts to win his first Grand Slam title and now with the US Open crown in his collection, he admits what follows next will be “a bonus.”
The 27-year-old Austrian will be hoping to make it back-to-back major triumphs at Roland Garros, which gets underway on Sunday.
Should world No. 1, and 2016 champion, Novak Djokovic, or 12-time winner Rafael Nadal unexpectedly falter, it is Thiem who is most likely to benefit.
“I felt great coming here because I’ve achieved such a big goal. I mean, at one point whatever comes now is somehow a bonus,” the world No. 3 said.
“On the other hand, I want to do the best I can in every single tournament I play.”
“Especially here in Roland Garros, I had four crazy years with two semifinals, two finals. I love the conditions here. I love the whole tournament.”
Thiem has lost the last two finals in Paris to Nadal as well as the 2017 semifinal against the Spaniard.
He also fell in the semifinal stage to Djokovic in 2016.
Thiem missed the Italian Open in Rome in the immediate aftermath of his victory in New York.
That left him without any clay court tennis since a quarterfinal run in Rio back in February before the coronavirus brought the season to a halt.
Like Nadal, Thiem has also expressed reservations over the new Wilson ball being used at Roland Garros this year.
Nadal complained they are too heavy and could cause physical damage.
“I practiced two days at home with the ball. Now, of course, here. I’m little bit sad because the Babolat at Roland Garros, it was my favourite ball, it was perfect,” Thiem explained.
“The Wilson ball is good, it’s just a little bit slower. It gets a little bit bigger after a while.”
“In general, the conditions are going to be slower. It can be rainy; it can be very cold. So we will see.”