Thiem In Vienna: ‘It’s Cool That We Can Play In Front Of 1,000 Spectators!’

STARNBERG/VIENNA, October 26, 2020

In a joint press conference on Sunday with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Minister of Sports Werner Kogler and tournament director Herwig Straka, Vienna defending champion Dominic Thiem spoke about the strong line-up at the Erste Bank Open, his first-round opponent Kei Nishikori and how he recharged his batteries.

Do you often think back to your triumph here last year?

Dominic Thiem: Almost every day! Every match was sold out and there was an incredible atmosphere. After the US Open, it’s still my biggest title and certainly one of the most emotional. Starting a tournament as the defending champion is always something special. This year it’s even more special. The field here is so strong, maybe the best ever in an ATP 500 tournament.

How do you prepare for your first-round opponent Kei Nishikori?

I recently watched a little at Roland Garros. He was injured longer and is now on his way back. He was in the Top 10 for a long time, played a Grand Slam final. A player like him is always dangerous.

How do you analyze a player like Nishikori who has been injured for so long?

He played his last hard-court match in 2019, so I’m sure I’ll watch something and other videos from Paris. But I know how he plays, we’ve had a few matches. He was definitely one of the best players of the last decade and such a player is always dangerous. It’s like with Marin Cilic in New York and Paris.

How have you recharged your batteries after the last few weeks?

I regenerated well for a few days at home and did nothing. It took a while to get back to my physical level, but I would say that I am fully back in my head and body. It just took a little time after Paris to be able to reflect on everything. I’m so grateful that we can play here at all.

What is life like in the bubble?

It was sensational to finally sleep in your own bed again. But, like I said, I’m happy that we can play here at all. Everything is fine. This is my first time staying here in the hotel, otherwise I was always sleeping at home, but everything is simply sensational: the food, the hotel itself, the court inside the Stadthalle. Everything is arranged and really cool that we can at least play in front of 1,000 spectators.

The line-up is excellent, but prize money has been reduced significantly. Do the players have to lower their sights in the long run?

I do believe that many tournaments have to go down with the prize money during this time. But that affects this whole bubble – by that I mean big sports like football, tennis and some US sports – where the prize money is very, very high and has continued to rise. It’s hard to imagine that this will go on forever. It would be a healthy thing for everyone involved if the whole thing levels off somewhere in the middle.