After Pomp And Ceremony, A Chance For Thiem To Reflect

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Sunday night, following the pomp and ceremony accompanying his first Grand Slam triumph – and after a well-deserved period to cool down after his nerve-wracking five-set victory over Alexander Zverev – newly-crowned US Open champion Dominic Thiem sat down with his sterling silver champion’s trophy by his side and spent 15 minutes answering questions from the media during a virtual press conference inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. It gave Thiem an opportunity to reflect upon the achievement of this Grand Slam moment, which came after his fourth major final.

Among the 11 questions Thiem was asked during his 15-minute virtual chat, one which stood out for me came from longtime tennis writer Bill Simons, the eloquent and thoughtful editor of Inside Tennis. He said to Thiem: “This really culminates a lifetime of work. Try and put into one word, one phrase, what winning your first Grand Slam means, what would that be?”

Granted, narrowing an achievement such as winning the US Open into one word would difficult – if not next to impossible – even for Roger Federer, who knows a thing or two about winning Grand Slam titles.

The friendly, reserved Thiem took time to articulate his thought – his spoken English distinguished by his distinctive German accent – as he answered Simons’ question. He said:

Yeah, definitely I achieved a life goal, a dream of myself, which I had for many, many years. Of course, as a kid, as well, when I started to play tennis. But back then it’s so far away.

“Then I got closer and closer to the top. At one point I realized that, Wow, maybe one day I can really win one of the four biggest titles in tennis.

“I put a lot of work in. I mean, I dedicated basically my whole life until this point to win one of the four majors. Now I did it. That’s also for myself a great accomplishment.

“I mean, it’s by far not only myself, it’s an accomplishment from all my team, from all my family. I guess also today is the day where I gave back huge amount of what they did for me.”

Then, Thiem was also asked if he thought he would win his first major at the US Open (on a hard-court surface) and what impact his coach, Nicolás Massú, has had on his success.

“Well, when I first realized that maybe one day, I could really win a major was when I first broke into the semis of Roland Garros, when I broke into top 10. From that moment on I dreamed about it. I thought that it’s maybe realistic.

“Back then I thought my biggest chances by far are on clay. But then the end of last year somehow changed a lot of things when I won Beijing, when I won Vienna, when I played the great Nitto ATP Finals. Then I realized that my game is suiting the hard courts really well.

“Of course, since I’m working with Nico, we improved my game on hard court a lot. Also changed my mind that many shots are working great on that surface. So, I think my best major until now US Open, I played in Australia. Now it’s not for me that big surprise any more that it’s not the French.

“At the end it doesn’t matter to me. Main thing is that I have one of these four now.”

Finally, Thiem was asked what the feeling was like after he fell to the court following match point. Just exactly, what was he thinking at the moment?

Thiem said: “It was such a big relief. I mean, obviously it was huge pressure in the match, huge emotions. Physically it was super tough.

“Then, also it was not easy four weeks in general. It was a lot coming through the mind, coming through the body.

“When I made that match point – when he missed that backhand – it was such a big relief. Like Indian Wells title, for example, or like Vienna title, titles that mean so much to me, just a little bit stronger as this is a major title. It’s just the highest thing what you can achieve in tennis.”

Watch the entire interview

Watch Thiem-Zverev highlights

The US Open – The drama from within

A highly-recommended read on Sunday night’s Thiem-Zverev US Open men’s final:

“Normally, the narrative of a match is communicated by the murmurs and roars of the crowd,” writes The New Yorker tennis writer Louisa Thomas. “This time, all the drama was internal to the match, and to the players. All of their resources had to come from within. They were alone.”

Smile if you won a US Open championship

From one major champion to another

Congratulations from the Rocket

Rafael Nadal on Thiem: “A super hard worker”

During his pre-Italian Open virtual press conference Monday in Rome, Rafael Nadal was asked about US Open champion Dominic Thiem:

“I’m happy for Dominic. He’s somebody who deserves to win a big title. He’s a super hard worker. Very focused on his goals. [A] good person, [a] good human person. He deserves it.”

The day after the night before with Sascha

Right on target – The Emirates Serves For Good campaign

A celebration of aces in support of Rally to Rebuild

Billie Jean King gives thanks to the USTA

Recognizing fellow royalty

Simona Halep gives props to fellow Romanian Patricia Maria Tig

Vika: Ciao from Rome

What they’re writing

Stephanie Myles / Open Court

Bill Simons / Inside Tennis

Thank you, New York