Dominic Thiem claims that 2024 is his ‘last chance’
Dominic Thiem has announced that 2024 will be his last chance to rise back up the rankings and rekindle the form that was once synonymous with his name.
Within six months of winning his maiden grand slam trophy at the 2020 US Open, Thiem suffered a wrist injury which saw his ranking plummet while on the sidelines.
Though he has shown glimpses of his best self, most notably during his run to the final at the ATP 250 in Kitzbuhel last season, the Austrian has desperately struggled to find consistency at the level he was previously used to.
After a year alternating between the Challenger tour and the main tour, the former world No.3 finished 2023 just two spots inside the world’s top 100 and now finds himself at a crossroads in his established career.
“I see this as my last chance. If I can do it, it can happen quickly,” Thiem said at a press conference in Austria.
“I’ve been back for two years since the injury, and I finished 2022 at 100 or so and last year at 98. Should I end the year at 100 again, you have to think about whether the whole thing is still worth it.”
Thiem also confirmed that he has split with his coach Benjamin Ebrahimzadeh and has shed light on his potential replacement.
“I separated from Benny after Australia,” he said. “[The new coach] will be someone who knows me as a player – since I was young, so to speak. I see that as the only chance to get the finishing touches.”
What next for Dominic Thiem?
The 30-year-old showed good signs against 22-time major champion Rafa Nadal when the two faced off in the first round of the Brisbane International, but was edged 7-5 6-1 before a commendable five-set loss to No.27 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Australian Open first round.
Thiem declared that he will be missing the upcoming trip to America, where his peers will be competing in the sunshine double at the Indian Wells and Miami Masters.
He will instead focus on playing in the three clay-court Challenger tournaments, Szekesfehervar, Zadar and Napoli, in a bid to gain ranking points, as well as confidence, in the run up to the Monte-Carlo Masters.
Despite his sole major title coming on hard court, Thiem favours the red dirt and his decision is a calculated one that could spring him up the rankings.
“I never did it for the money either,” he added. “I’m not a person who values money very much. As honest as I am, I don’t really care about the whole topic. I’ve been chasing the feeling for a long time, really like that again in a match. To play tennis the way I can. And the way I demand of myself.”
Inside the baseline…
It’s been an agonising few years for Dominic Thiem post injury woes; the form we have seen is has been poles apart from that which propelled him to No.3 in the world with a major title to his name. It’s a sensible decision to take time out to focus on the clay Challengers, as it is his favoured surface and will hopefully help him find the confidence he needs, though he has struggled in previous years when experimenting with the idea. It is important for tennis, not just for Thiem, that he returns to the level he is evidently capable of and it would be a shame for such an accomplished career to dwindle to a halt at such a young age.
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