Dominic Thiem recently spoke at length about his Roland Garros ambitions and chances, while also showering rich praise on 13-time champion Rafael Nadal.
Thiem is currently in Madrid, where he is preparing for the Mutua Madrid Masters - his first tournament since the Dubai Open in March. The Austrian had taken a break from the sport due to deal with his mental and physical struggles, which he claimed last week were on the mend.
Speaking to the media ahead of his Madrid Open campaign, Dominic Thiem revealed that he is 'happy' to be back on tour. The 27-year-old then reiterated his hopes of doing well at the French Open, but stressed that he first needs to get in some match practice at the highest level.
"I'm happy to be back here and hope I can play well," Thiem said. "My goal is to get a lot of matches against top players until the French Open to give myself the best chance possible there. It's the same like every year, no? It’s the same as every Grand Slam, it's so tough to go deep there, so tough to win it. But once I arrive at Roland Garros I want to be in the best physical shape, in the best tennis shape so I (can) give myself the best chance to go deep there."
Turning his attention to Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem highlighted the improvement that the Spaniard's game has witnessed since the two first locked horns in 2014. Thiem believes that Nadal's willingness to keep working on himself despite being one of the greatest players of all time is an inspiring trait.
"He’s improving his game constantly," Thiem added. "I first played him in Roland Garros (2014) and since that time he’s improved every part of his game. That's what you need to do to be successful every year and that’s why he’s such a great role model."
Dominic Thiem has some fond memories from Madrid, having finished as the runner-up on two occasions (2017, 2018). In 2019, the 27-year-old finished as a semifinalist.
Thiem highlighted his record in the Spanish capital while pointing out that the conditions complement his playing style.
"I think Madrid is a great place for me," the Austrian continued. "I only have good memories of this tournament. Conditions are amazing for my game and my results in the past have always been so good."
It is great to have an audience in the stands: Dominic Thiem
Playing in front of empty stands during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a massive demotivator for many players, including Dominic Thiem. But the Austrian will be able to play in front of fans during the Madrid Open, which has been permitted to fill up to 40% of its stands.
Speaking on that topic during his presser, Thiem expressed his delight at being able to play in front of spectators. He also pointed out that he has only played once in front of fans (2021 Australian Open) since the tour resumption, and as such was excited to take the court in Madrid.
"It is great to have an audience in the stands," Dominic Thiem added. "For me it is something new because, except Australia, I have not had an audience in any tournament. Having 40% of the audience is a lot and I can't wait to go back to see the fans again."