Paul Annacone recently opined that Dominic Thiem needs to find a clear goal for himself which can motivate him to stay at the top of the sport. Annacone cited the examples of his former wards Roger Federer and Pete Sampras in this regard, pointing out how they kept themselves going even after achieving their lifelong dream.
While speaking on Tennis Channel, Paul Annacone claimed that Dominic Thiem has reached the 'penultimate level' in tennis, which is to be a Slam champion. The American then recalled how Roger Federer and Pete Sampras would often discuss the difference between winning their first Major and maintaining a high level of consistency.
"When you get to that penultimate level (has won a Slam but is yet to maintain his stranglehold at the top) where he is, now it's like 'Now what?' And Roger and Pete both talked to me a lot about the difference between getting there and staying there," Annacone said.
Now that Dominic Thiem has fulfilled his long-standing goal of winning a Slam, Annacone reckons the Austrian must identify the one thing that will continue to give him purpose in his tennis career. The 58-year-old suggested that Thiem take a leaf out of Roger Federer and Pete Sampras' books to reach the next level.
"And I think that once you get there (win a Slam) there’s another evaluation of 'Hey, where do I go from here, what do I do and what gives me the joy of doing it? Is it the pursuit or is it the accomplishment?'," Annacone continued. "Those are the things that Dominic Thiem has to realize. I think everyone does it for a different reason. Pete was all about excellence, accumulating all the trophies and Major titles. Roger lives the life and loves the life. Thiem’s got to figure out what is it for him, what’s gonna keep driving him."
Paul Annacone believes Dominic Thiem's situation is similar to Pete Sampras' after the American won his first Slam
Pete Sampras won his first Grand Slam at the 1990 US Open, but had to wait almost three years before getting his hands on his second Major (Wimbledon 1993). Paul Annacone believes that Dominic Thiem, who won his first Slam just seven months ago but has struggled mightily since then, could be facing a mental block similar to Sampras'.
Annacone also claimed the Austrian hasn't been able to deal well with the COVID pandemic, as Thiem himself had hinted during his interview with Der Standard.
"Look it's a really complicated world we are living in with a lot of different things going on," Annacone said. "And for Dominic Thiem a lot of it is the COVID stuff and also what he talked about - the 15 years of focus."
"The one other thing that resonates with me a little differently, is that I remember talking to Pete Sampras and Pete telling me when he won the US Open for the first time - something he had been chasing his whole life," Annacone continued. "He won it and it kind of took him a couple of years to settle in, to go 'Okay this is what I'm doing' because after he won he went through a whole process of 'Why do I play, what do I want to do, this is what I do'. It took him a while to get comfortable, so I wonder if that is part of the equation for Thiem right now as well."