Dominic Thiem’s clay-court credentials are well proven but that only makes the gifted Austrian hungrier for greater success on other surfaces. The 24-year-old is no one-surface specialist and has high hopes of making a statement at this year’s BNP Paribas Open where he returns as the No. 5 seed.
Last year Thiem fell in a gripping quarter-final to Stan Wawrinka, an opponent who holds two hard court Grand Slam titles to his name. Only last week, he went down to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals at Acapulco.
It was there in Mexico he won his lone prior hard-court trophy to date, in 2016. Could Indian Wells deliver his next hard-court breakthrough?
“I’m always trying to make some changes to play better on hard courts,” Thiem said. “I’ve played three tournaments on hard courts [this year]. Doha was fine, Australia was also fine. Acapulco I lost to del Potro who won the tournament so I think I’m [heading] in the right direction.”
Despite a handful of big names missing from this year’s BNP Paribas Open draw Thiem does not see a vacuum waiting to be filled. Not does he see it as an easier path to success.
“More and more there are some big names coming up also, some young good players,” Thiem said. “Del Potro is back too. He’s a big name again which he maybe wasn’t last year. Even though many big players are out there are some new ones taking their spots so I don’t think it’s much easier to go deep than it was [in previous] years.”
One such young player coming up is #NextGen ATP Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas, Thiem’s second round opponent.
“I played him in Doha and was quite impressed actually,” Thiem said. “I’d never seen him before or practised with him before. I think he definitely has potential for Top 20, for sure. I think it’s also nice to have someone from Greece, I think the first real top player from that country. I think he’s going to be good.”