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“I do have the feeling that I am able to fight again for the big titles, for the Slams, and beat anyone” – Thiem

Projected to move back into the top 150 next week, Thiem has the top 100 as his goal for the year-end and says Rafael Nadal is a big source of inspiration for him

Dominic Thiem at the ATP Rennes Challenger in September 2022 Dominic Thiem at the ATP Rennes Challenger in September 2022 Image Credit: Laurent Lairys / Panoramic

Next week, former US Open champion Dominic Thiem is projected to return to the world’s top 150. While that is still a long way off from his peak of No 3 in the rankings, it’s certainly a big step forward for the player who was off the circuit for nine months and then lost in the opening round of his first seven tournaments back.

This week at the ATP Gijon Open, Thiem has won back-to-back matches for the sixth time in his last nine events and reached his fourth ATP quarter-final of the season. But the Austrian has bigger dreams in sight, saying that he is putting in all the hard work because he believes he can challenge for the Grand Slams once again.

“I hope so. I have a belief that I can do it,” Thiem said after his first round win in Gijon in an interview to AS when asked if he could fight for the Slams again. “If not, I would leave my career. I was at the top, in the top 3 of the rankings. And I do have the feeling that I am able to fight again for the big titles, for the Slams, and beat anyone. If not, all this hard work wouldn’t make sense to me. I hope that next year I can do it. I still have big dreams and I hope I can achieve them once again.”

Before injuries derailed his progress, Thiem won the US Open title in 2020 and had also reached three other Grand Slam finals (twice at the French Open and once at the Australian Open) to establish himself as the leading challenger to the Big 3 – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

He (Rafa Nadal) is probably the best role model for this experience

Thiem scored atleast five wins over each of the Big 3 (5-2 vs. Federer, 6-9 vs. Nadal, and 5-7 vs. Djokovic) and belives those wins in the first act of his career continue to help him.

“These are different moments. My career is divided into the first part, which was before the injury, and the second, which is now, and the first was incredible. I was able to beat all the best, win a lot of tournaments, even a Grand Slam. And then came the injury and my trajectory stopped. Now it’s a very interesting experience, because I have to be able to compete with all the top players again and that’s good. Obviously, the matches and the wins against Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are helping me, because they were a great experience.”

One of those Big 3 players – Rafael Nadal – in particular has been a tremendous source of inspiration for the Austrian due to his incredible ability to boucne back from numerous injuries several times in his career.

“He (Rafa Nadal) is probably the best role model for this experience, as he did it not just once, but four or five to return from a long injury time of six months or even longer. And the form was always amazing. So it’s a great inspiration.”

Never thought about retirement “because I’m still young and I want more achievements” – Thiem

Despite all the lows, Thiem said he did not ever consider retiring because he knew he still had some good years ahead of him and now has his eyes set on returning to the top 100 by the end of the season.

“No, because I’m still young and I want more achievements,” Thiem responded when asked if he considered retiring during his time off. “And I also think I have some more good years ahead of me. So that didn’t come to mind. I want to finish the year in the Top-100. It would be fantastic to achieve this.”

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