Dominic Thiem will be joining Novak Djokovic at the 2021 Serbia Open to be held from 19 to 25 April. Thiem's decision to play the 250-level event in Belgrade surprised many, as he was expected to try and defend his Barcelona Open crown. But Thiem's father Wolfgang has now explained that the World No. 4 received an invite from none other than Novak Djokovic himself.
Speaking to German tabloid Kleine Zeitun, Wolfgang Thiem revealed that his son was eager to play 'in front of a crowd again', given that the Serbia Open will have limited fans in attendance. Wolfgang also claimed the 27-year-old had had a good experience at the Adria Tour, the ill-fated exhibition tournament organized by Novak Djokovic and his family last year.
"Novak Djokovic asked him to play and he accepted," Dominic Thiem's father said. "Dominic is looking forward to play in front of a crowd again."
The Belgrade event has attracted plenty of other top players aside from Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem. The likes of Gael Monfils, Stan Wawrinka and Dubai Open winner Aslan Karatsev are also expected to play the event.
Dominic Thiem always has problems on hardcourt because he slides: Wolfgang
While Dominic Thiem will be present at the ATP 250 tournament as part of his claycourt lead-up to Roland Garros, he skipped this week's Miami Masters citing several issues. The Austrian has been bothered by his right foot since last year, although he asserted a few days ago that his injury was not serious.
Dominic Thiem's father doubled down on his son's assessment, claiming that they just had to check a "few things" when it came to his right foot. Wolfgang did acknowledge, however, that the 27-year-old has been facing these problems on hardcourts for some time now.
"Basically, he's fine," Wolfgang said. "We just had to check a few things. But these are small things that always occur when Dominic plays on hardcourt. Certain differences also play a role on the surface."
Wolfgang Thiem pointed out that every top player had some persistent issue or other, given that they compete at such a high level. According to Wolfgang, Dominic Thiem's tendency to slide on hardcourts was one of the factors behind the problem. He also cited the examples of Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro to better illustrate his point.
"Everyone has their weak point, for Djokovic and Berrettini it's the abdominal muscles, for Del Potro it's the joints, for Dominic it's the foot," Wolfgang said. "But it's nothing serious, otherwise, it would also hurt when he doesn't put any weight on his foot. Dominic always has problems on hardcourt because he slides."
"Over the years, a callus developed - and if this area is subjected to too much stress, an irritation can occur," he added. "So you have to give it a few days of rest. In any case, it's good that he's switching to clay now."