Having Dominic Thiem back on the tennis court is wonderful for tennis and himself.
Returning to the tour, finding your feet and match rhythm is tough. Dominic has played in Marbella, Belgrade, Estoril and Madrid winning zero of his four matches. No one ever expects a player to return after almost a year out and pull of trees but is this pathway the best one?
Starting off on the challenger circuit in looked a good idea to take a lower level to begin that comeback. Thiem was top seed and lost 3-6 4-6 to Cachin. Wildcards and Protected Rankings also help a player get into events but is that necessary right now?
I think Thiem’s current time on court and in the quest in his comeback would be better off at a lower level. He needs wins and I don’t doubt he will get them but I don’t think hopping from Masters 1000 events is the answer, ok you get more points but except for a gauge on his game what have we taken from the matches so far? One thing in my mind, he needs time and wins.
Rome and Roland Garros are on the horizon, Thiem will play Fabio Fognini in round one which is not ideal in Rome but you never know what you will get with the Italian. I do expect Thiem to play again ahead of Roland Garros but the question is, is a five set match something he needs?
We have seen in recent times the likes of Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori take a drop down to find their rhythm after injury and you can see that confidence in performance and the level increase. Maybe similar to Wawrinka, he is in Rome as well this week and has played in 7 tour level matches since the beginning of last year and only returned around 6 weeks. He posted on social media the other day “no shortcuts” so maybe an alternative route?
I hope Dominic does well in Rome, I did think against Murray in Madrid we saw aspects of brilliance but also a bit of a wasteful with some shots and a bit erratic.
My concern is what if Dominic loses first round? He is aware this is a process but five defeats on the bounce for anyone in any situation is a bit demoralising. If that happens I fully expect him in Lyon or Geneva before Roland Garros.
The brief this season would’ve been to compete at the highest level but the goalposts changed and now it’s a point building and game finding exercise. Granted the biggest points come at the biggest events but not always the wins.