Dominic Thiem's Australian Open preparations were handed a massive setback last week as his coach Nicolas Massu tested positive for coronavirus. The announcement was made just before Thiem was set to depart for Australia, which meant Massu couldn't travel with the World No. 3's team as initially planned.
The Chilean coach has now expressed hope that he tests negative soon and joins Dominic Thiem's team Down Under in time. That said, Massu is happy that the 27-year-old is in the capable hands of his father, Wolfgang Thiem.
"This means that Wolfgang Thiem has sole coaching responsibility," said Massu. "He can do it easily, but I hope I'll be there in time for the Grand Slam."
Wolfgang Thiem was previously an active coach on the ATP tour, having worked with multiple top 100 players in the past. He will also be the captain of the Austrian national team that's set to take part in the ATP Cup in the first week of February.
Nicolas Massu meanwhile has no idea how he got infected with COVID-19, and he confirmed that he has only mild symptoms at the moment.
"I have mild symptoms, my back hurts a bit," said the Chilean. "(It is) inexplicable, I don't know where I got infected with the virus. I had myself tested every two or three days for weeks, then I was positive before departure."
Will Massu's absence derail Dominic Thiem's campaign at the Australian Open?
As the most recent hardcourt Grand Slam champion (US Open 2020) on the men's tour, Dominic Thiem will go into the Australian swing with immense confidence. However, Nicolas Massu's absence could potentially leave the Austrian unsettled.
Massu has undoubtedly had a massive impact on Thiem's development, having overseen his most successful seasons on tour in 2019 and 2020. During this time Thiem has picked up his first Grand Slam and Masters 1000 titles, while also reaching two other Major finals and two finals at the ATP Finals.
Ever since the Austrian ended his partnership with long-standing coach Gunter Bresnik and joined hands with Massu, he seems to have developed an edge over his rivals - especially in the big tournaments. As such, if Massu doesn't recover in time to be able to fly to Australia, Dominic Thiem's chances of winning his first Slam Down Under might take a hit.