Like other opening matches at the Erste Bank Open tennis tournament, Dominic Thiem’s name has ultimate potential. Former top ten Kei Nishikori was not only in the 2018 final in Vienna, but also at the 2014 US Open. Thiem sees his conqueror at the time, Marin Cilic, as dangerous as Nishikori. “He’s definitely one of the best players of the past decade – a player like that is dangerous every day,” said Thiem before Tuesday’s game.
Cilic recently had Thiem under control twice – both in the third round of the United States Open and at the beginning of the French Open. The number three in the world has a balance of 2: 3 against Nishikori – his victories come from the French Open and the ATP Finals, both in 2018. In the middle was the sensible defeat of 3: 6.1: 6 in the quarterfinals of Vienna, which is another attempt the public favorite ended with a Vienna title. The following year, however, the coup was successful.
Nishikori, on the other hand, is currently only 36th in the world ranking. This year he competed only on clay, the 30-year-old missed the “Cincinnati” event in New York and the US Open after a positive crown test. His last hard court event so far was the US Open 2019, after which an elbow injury put him out of action. Of the four tournaments played in 2020, the Asian won just one match from Rome and the French Open.
Thiem is not fooled by this. “These players are always dangerous because he was in the top ten for a long time,” explained Thiem. “These players can always play in very good shape from one week to the next.”
But he himself is also ready. “The battery is very full and I haven’t done anything for a long time. After the last few weeks, I needed time to relax, to reflect, ”said the local hero, recalling his time in the“ bubbles ”of the Grand Slams in New York and Paris.
He is known for not always starting a tournament well. “But it will be necessary. I did that last year too. “At that time, Thiem got a two-sentence opening win against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA), who is probably also in the Cilic and Nishikori category. In any case, Thiem will see that he is 100 percent in the starting blocks.” The most important thing is that I am fully present from the beginning. I want to play the best I can again, to dispute the title again. “
He does not believe that Nishikori can surprise him. There is also no need to study your opponent a lot on video. “I know how hard he plays. It is important not to separate it too much, but to focus entirely on myself and perform very, very well. ”
Thiem returned to training a week and a half ago, the time to look back is over. “It is time for me to set new goals. The home tournament is perfect for that. “The memories of last year’s triumph, of course, are still present.” The most exciting title of my career. A childhood dream has come true. Starting as the title champion is always special. But this year is unreal with the field. strong. It is not an ‘Impossible Mission’, but almost. “
Thiem has been inspecting the central court since Saturday, on Sunday also with Serbian Novak Djokovic. “I would say medium tempo – neither too fast nor too slow. Everything is ready for super tennis, ”he reported. It doesn’t matter that this time there are clearly less cash prizes at stake. This is even an advantage of Corona, so to speak. “It will be some time before it goes up again. If this is established in a healthy environment, it would be a good thing for everyone involved. “Thiem was referring to the recent rapid increases in cash prizes in tennis, but also in football and some sports in the United States.” It is hard to imagine that this will go on forever. “