Defending champion Dominic Thiem is aiming to win the Vienna event for the second year in a row, but is faced with a Herculean task this time around. The World No. 3 is joined by a host of top players - including Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman - at the 2020 Erste Bank Open.
Thiem will open his campaign on Tuesday against Kei Nishikori, who is still a difficult opponent even if he isn't physically at his best yet.
Given the incredibly packed field, Vienna 2020 is being likened to a Masters level tournament. While speaking to ATPtour.com on Sunday, Dominic Thiem revealed how it felt to come into an event as the defending champion and be handed such a brutal draw.
Thiem acknowledged the strength of the playing field while labeling the tournament as the ‘best 500 tournament ever’.
“It’s always special to start as a defending champion at a tournament, but this year is unreal the whole draw,” Thiem said. “It was strong and then Novak arrived and it got unreal even. (It is) probably the best (ATP) 500 tournament ever. Defending the title is not mission impossible, but almost.”
The 2019 Vienna Open is the biggest title of my career after US Open: Dominic Thiem
You don't often see a top player including an ATP 500 title in his list of greatest career accomplishments. However, the 2019 Vienna Open win ranks very highly in Dominic Thiem’s list - just behind his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, in fact.
Dominic Thiem has been involved with the Vienna event since he was a kid, and he has fallen in love with it over the years. Vienna is the most prominent home tennis tournament for Thiem, and it helped him transition from a spectator to a tennis player.
“I would say of course after the US Open that’s still the biggest title of my career,” Thiem said. “(It is) probably one of the most emotional ones as well because I’ve been here since I was a four or five-year-old kid every year as a spectator who didn’t understand tennis, then as a spectator who was super interested in tennis."
Dominic Thiem went on to talk about how he regained his mental equilibrium after his quarterfinal loss at Roland Garros. He took some time off to reflect on that result and also on his US Open triumph a couple of weeks prior, before setting new goals for the rest of the year - the first of which is Vienna.
“Obviously I was completely done after the French Open, so I took off a week where I did nothing and I also had to still reflect on the US Open title,” Thiem said. “Then set myself new goals, of course looking forward to the tournament in Vienna, which every year (has been) a special highlight since I [was] a young kid, since I played here for the first time.”Published 26 Oct 2020, 14:42 IST