‘Dominic Thiem will be stronger, fitter and faster than ever before for the Australian Open…’
Jez Green has worked as a physical conditioner for former world No 1 Andy Murray. His most recent challenge was getting Dominic Thiem to the top spot after a long injury timeout. He wrote exclusively for Tennishead with a big fitness update on the 2020 US Open champion.
It has become very easy to forget just how good Dominic Thiem is. Watching him practice now, he’s as good as he always was. When he was on fire, two years ago, he could beat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, at their best. He was the next one, he was the next number one, before he got injured, he was there, he was that level.
Working with Dominic, someone who has already been at the highest point and also is a little bit older, is an interesting project for me. He’s had a very funny history with fitness, he’s never really done a structured fitness program because he worked with a coach who was a bit old school and did everything on the court. We’ve changed that. We’ve put science into his fitness program, which he hasn’t really done before.
It has been a long road back for him from injury, but we completely trust the process. He ruptured his wrist twice within a few months, the first of which came in June last year. He got playing again very slowly, by September, October time, and transitioned softballs for a month or so. That’s when we were doing a lot of fitness, September, October, November, and by December, he was hitting pretty much full. He went to Dubai, and he made fairly good progress over there, but then he really wasn’t going to make it to Australia.
We had the idea of getting him to Indian Wells and Miami, so we kept him on hard in January and February which was pretty good, but he had a little bit of discomfort, a little bit of pain in the wrist. So we shelved Miami, and then that’s when we got on the clay. We were on the clay from March, April all the way through to now.
The clay was better for the shot he had to re-find – his forehand. Everything else was okay and, as he did the injury on the forehand, we needed to re-find that shot after the ruptures. You have literally got to accelerate on clay, it is as simple as that. If you don’t accelerate on clay, the ball goes nowhere. You don’t have to accelerate on grass or on fast hard courts the same way – the ball goes anyway, but on clay you have got no chance. So that’s why we kept him there, it was the only way he was going to find the shot was to keep him on clay.
But his body, because he’s done so much fitness over the last five months, is really good. The only thing he’s missing is matches, but he’s getting those now. His actual fitness and his body was conditioned and pretty much ready to go by Miami in May time, it’s just that the shots weren’t there. There was no pain in the wrist since about February.
I think we’ll start seeing the real, full-on, vintage Dominic Thiem soon. He now needs to play matches and now needs 25 high level matches to get back to the top and I think he’s ready for it.
I always work three or so months ahead of time, because I’m always planning where the body needs to go to. So I’ve got half an eye on Australia personally, but he’s ready with the work he’s done over the last three to six months and he was really well-prepared for the US Open for the first time in over a year.
He’s fresh, he’s ready, he’s fit and he’s pain-free. With another really big training block in November and December, I think he will be at another level by Australia. He will have full power and be even stronger, fitter, and faster than ever before. He’s never really done a strength program scientifically, so we’ve done a lot of strength work in order to make him much more explosive. I think he’s going to end up looking a little different than before, although maybe not dramatically. It’s not going be dramatic, but people will say: ‘Hey, he looks strong’. Everyone around is starting to notice this body is changing.
Dominic has been in two French Open finals, one final in Australia, and he won the US Open, so he’s made five finals. You have to think still that a full power Dominic on clay makes the French Open his number one possibility, but I think all of the Slams are possible. He’s very fresh and has very good motivation. He can have five more years left in tennis, so he has very good possibilities. Make no mistake, Novak and Rafa are not going to want to see a fully fit Dominic Thiem back!
Jez Green’s fitness app, Built4Tennis, is available on the App Store
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