Dominic Thiem has claimed on more than one occasion that defeating Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros is one of the toughest tasks in the sport. The Austrian reiterated that sentiment in a recent interview, but added that the other Slams are an opportunity for 'six or seven players' to take home some silverware.
"Roland Garros is a special situation because Rafael Nadal is above everyone else there," Thiem said. "Elsewhere, it's more open. Now, six or seven players can win a Major; before it was just Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer."
Dominic Thiem made his mark on the tour as a strong claycourt player, and over the past few years he has defeated some of the best players in the world on the surface - including Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The 27-year-old also reached back-to-back finals at Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019, losing to Nadal on both occasions.
Rafael Nadal's record at Roland Garros speaks for itself. The Spaniard has won 13 titles in Paris, and is currently the four-time defending champion. He has only lost two matches at the event - against Novak Djokovic (2015) and Robin Soderling (2009).
But while nobody has been able to challenge Rafael Nadal's hegemony at Roland Garros, the other Slams have been a little more open, as Dominic Thiem suggested. The Austrian himself won the US Open last year, which he claimed took "an incredible energy output".
Dominic Thiem also gave Novak Djokovic a serious scare at the 2020 Australian Open, whereas Daniil Medvedev reached the final in Melbourne this year. Many believe the US Open this year could be another chance for one of the youngsters to break through and join the Slam-winning circle.
"I and many other players will take more breaks than normal this year" - Dominic Thiem on his upcoming schedule
Dominic Thiem is currently on an extended break from competitive tennis action, having opted out of both the Miami Masters and the Monte Carlo Masters. And the Austrian believes longer breaks are going to be more common among players this year, due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Thiem pointed out that the pandemic has robbed the players of some of the nicest things about being on tour, but has retained the stressful aspects.
"The energy from the fans, having a nice dinner in the evening, going to the beach: all these beautiful things simply fall away," Thiem said. "And the bad things, like traveling, are still there. (This makes) everything a little more strenuous than it was before. That's why both I and many other players will take more breaks than normal. It's just important to be fully ready again."
Dominic Thiem is set to return at the Serbian Open next week, before playing at the Madrid Masters and Rome Masters in the lead-up to Roland Garros 2021. Thiem's objective is to return to top form on his preferred surface, and go toe-to-toe with the best players in the world.
"The matches against the best players in the world: I have to make sure that I get the ones in Madrid and Rome. So that I am fully back in Paris," the US Open champion said.