The world has been desperately trying to get out of the coronavirus pandemic, or at least learn to live with the virus and resume normal life with a few tweaks. But for Austria's tennis ace Dominic Thiem, normal life might resume well before the virus is defeated.
The World No. 3 seems hell-bent on playing as much as possible over the next few weeks, and has planned an "Exhibition Tour" while the ATP Tour remains suspended.
Even with no ranking points on offer, Dominic Thiem's travel schedule seems to have gone back to normal with a series of events lined up before the tour resumes. The three-time Slam finalist is keeping himself busy for the next five weeks at least, with exhibition tournaments planned in Belgrade, Nice, Kitzbuhel and Berlin.
Dominic Thiem already seems to be enjoying his time in Belgrade, where World No.1 Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour kicks off on Saturday. The Serb flew in his Austrian counterpart to Belgrade in a private jet, and the duo then played a bit of football with the other guests of the event including World No. 7 Alexander Zverev.
Dominic Thiem's packed schedule
The Adria Tour is scheduled to take place over four weeks, but Dominic Thiem's participation ends with the Belgrade leg on Sunday.
The Austrian had kept himself busy even before this, having played seven matches in Generali Austrian Pro Series back home. However, the Adria Tour will be the first time since his shock defeat to World No.128 Gianluca Mager at the Rio Open back in February that Thiem will face an international opponent.
"A match against Zverev or Djokovic is quite a good thing. But the charity factor is also in the background," said the Austrian's father Wolfgang Thiem in an interview with the Austria Press Agency.
After bidding goodbye to Belgrade the Australian Open runner-up will travel back to Austria for the final phase of the Austrian Pro Series, to be held in Südstadt. Over the following two weekends, the World No. 3 will feature in the 'Ultimate Tennis Showdown', the brainchild of Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
Although the tournament's highly unconventional format of basketball-like 10-minute quarters interrupted by two-minute breaks has drawn mixed reviews from tennis fans, Dominic Thiem's father thinks the match practice will still be very important for his son.
"Then you already have 10 to 15 matches in your legs when it starts. That helps," Wolfgang Thiem was quoted as saying.
The senior Thiem further added that his son always wants to win regardless of the nature of the stature of the event.
"Of course Dominic always wants to win, but it is always the exhibition character, also in Austria."
Wolfgang also added that Thiem has been working hard even while tennis has been suspended, with the long-term goals in mind.
"Dominic is always determined, he has also worked a lot on his conditioning in the past few weeks. It makes no sense if you do not prepare perfectly for that (the exhibitions). Because you have to prepare for America in the long term or for the clay season."
Dominic Thiem wants Rafael Nadal to play in his home event
Wolfgang Thiem further revealed that Dominic wants to invite World No. 2 Rafael Nadal to his "Thiem's 7" tournament in July, and has even contacted the Spaniard.
Dominic Thiem, who will take a short break in the first week of July, will return to action at his own exhibition event to be hosted in Kitzbuhel from July 7-11. And for the last place in the grid, the 26-year-old wishes to have an absolute superstar in the form of 19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.
"He (Dominic) also contacted Rafael Nadal if he would be interested," Wolfgang Thiem revealed. "But there was no promise (from Nadal)."
There's still time left for the event though, and if things go as the Austrian hopes, we could see the Spanish legend return to action sooner than expected. However, given that Nadal recently revealed he had only just resumed training after the lockdown in Spain, his participation certainly looks in doubt.Published 13 Jun 2020, 00:09 IST