One of the biggest storylines on the tennis circuit in 2020 was the emergence of Dominic Thiem as the foremost challenger to the Big 3. Thiem won his first Slam title at the US Open, finished as the runner-up at the Australian Open, and then beat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on his way to reaching the summit clash of the ATP Finals.
Many in the tennis community, including his rivals Djokovic and Nadal, have put Thiem's success down to his hard work and positive mindset. And that's something coach Nicolas Massu agrees with too.
The 41-year-old Massu is the only male player to have won both the singles and doubles gold medals during the same Olympic Games (2004 Athens). Having been working with Dominic Thiem since the early part of 2019, Massu recently gave an interview with ITF where he talked about the qualities that make the World No. 3 such a great example for youngsters everywhere.
“Dominic Thiem is a talented player and a very hard worker," Massu said. "He is very young, so I see a bright future. He knows he can win more. I hope in the new season he can continue playing solid tennis.”
"Dominic Thiem is very receptive and always looking to improve," the Chilean added. "He is a very good guy, an example for all kids."
Massu also mentioned that when the pair started working together, they first wanted to improve Thiem's results on hardcourt. The Austrian had already established himself as one of the best claycourters prior to that, with back-to-back runner-up finishes at the French Open to his credit. But he is now considered one of the top hard-court players in the game too, and Massu revealed their next goal is to improve his results on grass.
“One of the goals was to improve his hardcourt results, and nowadays I don't know if he has better results on clay or hard,” Massu said. “He has a great level on both surfaces – but we need to improve on grass."
Nicolas Massu on the reasons behind his successful working relationship with Dominic Thiem
Nicolas Massu, who was nominated for the ATP Coach of the Year award in both 2019 and 2020, also gave an insight into what goes behind a healthy player-coach relationship.
The Chilean believes that mutual respect and communication are essential for any coach to be successful. He and Dominic Thiem have worked upon that ever since they joined forces last year.
“You need to be close to the player to be successful,” Massu said. “We respect each other and work on improvements when he needs it."
“In the beginning, we didn't know each other, but we talked a lot and adapted to one another," the 41-year-old added. "We travel together, and we think about tennis in a similar way. I had watched him many times before I started working with him – and when I started, I knew that he would improve on hardcourts with some minor tweaks to his game."Published 24 Dec 2020, 16:02 IST