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Don't know whether Dominic Thiem lost at AO due to legal dispute, but such things can affect athletes psychologically: Sports attorney

Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem
Modified 24 Feb 2021

Dominic Thiem's earlier-than-expected exit from the recent Australian Open came as a surprise to many.

After his US Open triumph, Thiem was widely expected to be the main challenger to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for the Major titles in 2021. However, the Austrian lost comprehensively to Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round at Melbourne.

Dominic Thiem's father Wolfgang claimed last week that the defeat was due to a combination of factors, including the quarantine measures in Australia and the legal dispute between the Thiems and former coach Gunter Bresnik. And now, renowned Austrian sports attorney Christina Toth has also weighed in on the issue.

Toth, who has served as the Interim President of the Austrian Tennis Association in the past, claimed that legal disputes can have an impact on an athlete’s performance.

"We don't know whether Dominic Thiem really lost at the Australian Open because of this dispute, but we do know that these (kind of) disputes can have an impact on the athlete psychologically," Toth, who specializes in sport at her law firm, stated.
"It doesn't leave you unaffected and the longer you drag it out, the more difficult it becomes."

(Toth's interview with Laola1 has been translated using Google Translate).

What is the legal dispute between Dominic Thiem and Gunter Bresnik all about?

Gunter Bresnik has sued Dominic Thiem for 450,000 euros, claiming he is still entitled to some part of the Austrian's income.


Thiem and Bresnik worked together for more than 15 years, but parted ways in the first half of 2019. During their time together, Bresnik acted as both coach and manager of the current World No. 3.

Bresnik believes he is entitled to a share of Dominic Thiem's income related to contracts that were signed when he acted in the capacity of the 27-year-old's manager.

At a hearing in December, the judge had asked the two parties to consider an out-of-court settlement. That discussion, which is to be led by a judicial mediator without the presence of lawyers, is scheduled to take place in the last week of this month.

"Out-of-court settlements enable creative solutions" - Austrian legal expert on the Dominic Thiem-Gunter Bresnik dispute

Dominic Thiem with then coach Gunter Bresnik at the 2016 ATP Finals
Dominic Thiem with then coach Gunter Bresnik at the 2016 ATP Finals

During the interview, Christina Toth was also asked whether it was common for judges to ask parties involved in such disputes to undergo an out-of-court settlement. And Toth responded that it is actually very common for judges to do so in such cases.


Toth believes that out-of-court settlements enable 'creative solutions' that make it possible for both sides to walk away without the feeling of having lost the case.

"Yes, it is absolutely common," Toth said. "In a settlement, the parties have a much broader freedom of action than a judge in the proceedings. Creative solutions can also be found here, in which none of the parties leaves the field as a loser."
"A judge can only decide on a legal basis: is the contract valid or not," she added. "Of course, there are also gradations where both parties are sometimes found to be right. But there are no flexible solutions possible"

Toth also revealed that she prefers out-of-court settlements, especially when the parties involved are public figures.

"In addition, and this must always be taken into account in such high-profile cases: in a legal procedure, dirty laundry is sometimes washed in the public," Toth said. "That cannot be in the interests of those involved. In the event of a settlement, the parties can agree to keep the solution confidential. In this respect, I'm basically a fan of not taking such disputes to court."
Published 24 Feb 2021, 11:42 IST
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