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Sepp Resnik turned 60 recently. Now the man with the most colorful reputation in Austria’s sport scene wants to prove that “world class” works differently than everybody thinks it does. He has tennis prodigy Dominic Thiem, recently turned 20, shower in a waterfall, carry tree trunks through the woods, and do sit-ups at midnight until he screams.

Dominic Thiem really got to know his fitness coach Sepp Resnik on a March afternoon, by the banks of the Wiener Neustadt canal, an unadorned waterway in the dull outer districts of the town.

Thiem (barely 20, running and hence out of breath): ”Look, Sepp, over there, on the other side, there’s some sun on the meadow. That’d be a good place to work out.”

Resnik (also running, but not quite as out of breath): ”Good idea, let’s do that.”

Thiem: ”But…”

Resnik: ”But what?”

Thiem: ”But… bridge?”

Resnik: ”Who needs a bridge? That creek isn’t wider than five meters, and it ain’t deeper than two. You won’t drown.”

Resnik stops, steam clouds forming before his mouth, strips down to his underpants, enters the water as if it’s a hot spring, and motions for Thiem to do the same.

“What are you waiting for?”

Doing the same takes a little time, first of all because Thiem felt like hesitating for a moment and second of all because he had a lot of clothes on, including a parka and a woolen hat. Then Thiem enters the water, toes first, with friendly encouragement by Resnik (“What’s taking you so long?”), and swims through the fresh spring water, fidgeting, gasping for air, only to commence doing all sorts of exercise, the kind of which usually gets you in shape for a military pentathlon, on the other side of the canal for an hour. The March sun is only slowly drying the clothes on Thiem. Afterwards, both swim back, get into their clothes, and Resnik says cheerfully, “Look, now we’re even showered.”

Ferrari Mouse

One could easily attribute the collaboration of Dominic Thiem and Sepp Resnik to a commentator’s joke. Resnik is a former gymnast, soccer player, judoka, track and field athlete, and military pentathlete (in 1984, he was the first Austrian at Hawaii’s Ironman Triathlon). Afterwards he made a name for himself in various ultra-triathlons, for example 1988 in Grenoble (13km swimming, 540km cycling, 126,6 km running); he got attention in 1994 when he circled the world with his bike. With two decades of management experience in the Vienna Go-Go Bar “Beverly Hills”, a marriage to a women who called herself Ferrari Mouse (and who married a woman after their divorce), projects like a world record in endurance downhill skiing, and participating in a nationally televised matchmaking show, he crossed over from the sports section to general news and the gossip pages.

The increasing restraint among sports journalists in appreciation of Resnik’s achievements is based in certain doubts about the reliability of his statements. When a sports magazine published a major piece on Resnik’s ultra-triathlon, a letter to the editor urged for more critical research and enumerated how Resnik’s account of his crossing of the Gibraltar Strait meant he would’ve equaled the 100 meter freestyle world record over the whole distance. (“All accounts were correct. You have to take the current into consideration,” Resnik says even today, two decades later.) The 300 daily kilometers in his 80-days-around-the-world bike tour also raise some skepticism about the credibility of the pipe-smoking Resnik: 300 km is double the distance of an average Tour de France stage, and Resnik was facing non-closed, public roads in countries like Pakistan or Iraq. (“300? It was 350!” says Resnik).

On the other hand, Thiem is one of the world’s best tennis players in his age group, and along with David Alaba one of the only young Austrians on the radar in tennis, which is viewed as a global sport in ski-centric Austria. When Thiem was 17, he caught Ivan Lendl’s eye. Right on the court, Lendl called Adidas and recommended they get the boy a multi-year contract.



Flashes of talent weren’t scarce for the young Lower Austrian in the following years, but overall, he seemed a little too delicate for pro tennis. His health was frail, he was often tired, and, on the court, wasn’t convincing as a competitor. He always looked as if he’d want to apologize for his thundering winners. When Dominic Thiem would get over himself and pump his fist after a hard-fought point, as is expected by a tennis player in Austria ever since Thomas Muster, he’d hold his thumb in a way that would have got it broken should he actually have used the fist to punch.

Our locker is the trunk

Günter Bresnik, 52, has been Thiem’s coach for eight years and when he’s asked about the most important feature of a successful tennis professional, he says, “Stress tolerance.” Bresnik has been looking for years for the right fitness trainer for his protégé. There were even talks with Roger Federer’s staff member Pierre Paganini, or Bernd Pasold from the Red Bull training center, but somehow nothing worked out.

Then, in the fall of 2012, Bresnik met Resnik. They knew each other from years before, got to talking, and Bresnik invited Resnik to visit them in the Südstadt training center, between a soccer stadium and the parking lot of a shopping mall. Resnik came, watched the boy for ten minutes, and said, “Günter, I saw everything. The boy can do anything from the hip upwards and nothing from the hip downwards.”

About Christmastime of that year, they started working together on a trial basis, in idling mode by Resnik’s standards, which means 15 km runs in the park of the military academy in Wiener Neustadt.

“We went running at midnight, so we’d be undisturbed. The first time, Dominic asked where the lockers are, and I told him: our locker is the trunk. Then he said that it’s dark. And I told him: what else do you expect at midnight? When I say right, you go right, when I say left, you go left. I’ve run 60.000 km in this park, I know my way around.”

In the first workout together, Resnik counted 16 walk-breaks in 15 kilometers. “The boy’s pulse hit the roof.“ Two weeks later, it was two walk-breaks.

Stalingrad et cetera

Sepp Resnik is one of those people you can’t be formal with. And he’s a rather entertaining narrator, with strengths in the more associative form. When the conversation turns to the topic of sleep, because you ask whether Dominic Thiem would get enough to be on the court the next day after 15km at midnight, he’ll say, “For years, I trained by myself every night. Every evening I biked from Vienna to the Wechsel. [Note: 1.700 m mountain pass about 100km south of Vienna.] And at 7.30 am in the morning I was here to wish the company a good morning.”

But when did you sleep?

“I didn’t.”

But man can’t live without sleep… ?

“I didn’t sleep for decades. And do I look bad? There you have it. I’m not wasting my time with sleeping anymore.“

Sepp, with all due respect, but I can’t believe that. Completely without sleep, that’s not possible.

“Says who?”

Silence.

“Now pay attention to what I’m saying. Thirty years ago my coach, Hans Schackl [note: the way Resnik refers to him as “der Schackl Hans” is equally casual and untranslatable] told me: Stop sleeping. From now on, we’re training every evening from seven in the evening to five in the morning, every day, and Saturday, Sunday are the races. I told him, I don’t get it, so he just handed me war literature. Stalingrad, mountaineering, wars, Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago. I read that, and then I knew, my whole life truly is a vacation.

But the body’s requirements…

“I don’t care about requirements. Whatever. You’d be amazed at what you’re capable of when the going gets tough. In the Battle of Stalingrad, people recognized the senselessness of their actions and said, I’m going home now. Then they went home on foot. Those are landmarks for me. You get that?“

Hm.

“You know, I’m from an industry where the establishment of boundaries doesn’t exist.“

Sentences like this one showcase Sepp Resnik’s prominent chin. In the chin discipline, he’s world champion, leagues ahead of Michael Schumacher and Jay Leno.



For aerobic capacity

Immediately after the tournament in Kitzbuhel at the end of July – Thiem beat Juergen Melzer and reached his first quarterfinal at the ATP level – the schedule called for a week of fitness training. In pro sports, such timeouts from the everyday training and competition cycle are called a “fitness block“, where the core elements of Athleticism 101 are refreshed: strength, speed, coordination, endurance. Fitness blocks are usually held in gyms with mirrored walls, heart-rate monitor straps, lactate tests at the earlobes, ergometers, various colorful training utensils, hip-hop from the sound system, and a laptop to analyze all data on the spot.

Resnik doesn’t like gyms. He also doesn’t like it when things get too technical: “What sports scientists say is the base, not the purpose.” He doesn’t care much for training schedules. He measures Dominic Thiem’s pulse by putting the finger at his carotid artery. “Right at the start I told Dominic, ‘We’re never going to a fitness center. We’re not lifting weights, we’re lifting tree trunks. Our fitness center is nature, where the best water and the best oxygen are. We’re getting our strength from where most of it is found.’” For the fitness block, Resnik organized a hunter’s cabin near Gutenstein in the southern parts of Lower Austria. “A friend of mine owns half the valley,” says Resnik, “so we got plenty of space.” And then they went back into the woods.

“One, two hours uphill on a forest trail at first, just walking, not running. Then there’s a tree trunk, 25 kilograms. ‘Dominic’, I say to him, ‘take it on your shoulders’. Then we keep on walking, and I explain to him what this is good for: shoulder girdle, upper body, aerobic capacity. Every five minutes, we switch, and I take the trunk. And so we keep on walking for another two hours.”

There isn’t a drill that Resnik doesn’t do along with Thiem.

“There’s a purpose behind that. Not for me, but for him. Because when he says that he’s hurting, then he looks at me. And he sees a sixty year old doing all the same things he does and whistling all the while.

“One of the following days, I woke up Dominic before midnight, brought him to the parlor, and told him, ‘We’ll do sit-ups now. Forty-five minutes. And just so things don’t get too easy, we’re each gonna be holding a chair in front of our chest. In the dark, because I didn’t turn on the lights, so he’ll concentrate on the drill. At some point, he started screaming, because it hurt that much, and he said, ‘I can’t do it anymore, I can’t do it anymore!’ I reply, ‘I never want to hear that again, not ever, because what a sixty year old can do, a twenty year old has to be able to do three times.’”

That morning, they showered under a waterfall.

Doubt soothes me

Sepp Resnik’s stories rise above the usual form of conversation in colorful arabesques. For instance, when it comes to the general topic of the extraordinary, it sounds like this:

“Extraordinary goals require extraordinary measures. I always knew that. If you walk the path that everybody walks, you’ll only reach the goal that everybody reaches. So it’s a great honor to me when someone says, Resnik is a lunatic, a nutjob. Because that means I do something that the other one can’t comprehend. For me, doubt is confirmation. Doubt soothes me.”

“I used to care about what other people think of me. By now, I don’t give a crap. I’m untouchable, because I don’t care about everyone else. If I want to yell something on court during a tennis match, then I’ll yell. Let people think whatever they want. At the final in Este [a Futures in Italy, which Thiem won in late August], when Dominic went up 1-0 in the first set, I yelled at him, ‘Attack! Attack him now! Break!’ And he went on to break.“

“Money? It’s not an issue. I have what I need. I have my [Mercedes] 500 Coupé and my Jaguar, in dark blue with beige leather, just like I always wanted. I’m no fool, that’s for sure. I told them, I’d do the first year with Dominic for free. I’ll even pay for my gas, when I have to drive somewhere, and my food. That way, I’m free in what I do and how I do it. I can tell him: If you’re late once, by one minute, I’m gone. Forever. We’ll talk about money when Dominic gets to some cash. And the boy will get there, you bet he will. Did you ever listen when he’s playing? He’s the only one, the only one of them all, who’ll have you hear a bang when he strikes the ball.”

“When I got back from a tournament with Dominic, the police called and told me that there’d been a burglary at my house. The whole place was messed up. So I get there, take a look around, and the policeman asks me if I need a psychologist, because they have professional assistance for victims of break-ins. So I tell him, ‘Listen. Next time, you’ll need a psychologist. Because I’ll have this whole place fixed, and then I’ll put in some booby traps. Just like I was taught at the army. And next time when someone comes and tries to mess with the door, there’ll be a cadaver lying around by the time you get here.’“

Solzhenitsyn has to wait

Last Christmas, Thiem was ranked outside of the Top 300. Eight months later – including two months in spring he lost due to intestinal surgery – he’d cut his ranking number in half. No younger player is ranked ahead of him right now. After making the quarterfinals in Kitzbuhel, he won the Futures tournament in Este and reached his first Challenger level final in Como. He barely missed the cut for the US Open in New York, and will have his Grand Slam debut with the pros in January at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

When you talk about Resnik with Dominic Thiem , his father Wolfgang, or with Günther Bresnik, they all admit to having reservations initially, but they all praise his creativity, his dedication and enthusiasm. “He’s crazy, in a good way,“ says Bresnik, “and so he’s a rather good fit for our team.”

Resnik’s approach to tennis is not clogged up with detailed knowledge, but that maybe is the refreshing thing about it. “Tennis is a ghetto,” he says. “As a tennis idiot, Dominic will never be a successful tennis player. In professional sports, everyone talks the same language. And there are cherries that you can pick and transfer from one sport into another. If you master that, to recognize the cherries and transfer them, then jumps in performance are rather easily possible. You just have to accept the experience people in other disciplines have achieved.” Resnik gave Thiem a book about Zen Buddhism, one of those cherries, “so he knows what he can do with his breathing,“ and another book about anatomy, “so he knows what goes where in his body.“

And the cherry Solzhenitsyn?

“Solzhenitsyn has to wait for now. But we’ll get there.“

That out there is not a game, it’s a war

You can tell rather easily by looking at him that Dominic Thiem doesn’t particularly enjoy grinding sit-ups in a clearing in the woods. And he doesn’t enjoy getting bugs from the tree trunks into his hair when he’s weightlifting. Still, he has come to appreciate the sometimes unorthodox methods of his fitness coach. And besides, Thiem likes Resnik. “He’s just a wicked guy,” he says.

For his 60th birthday, Thiem even made him a special present. It was the day of his Futures final in Este, Italy. At some point halfway through the first set a spectacular rally brought both players to the net. After a body fake, Thiem wanted to put the ball past his duped opponent in slow motion, but the ball caught the tape, wandered a bit on the edge, before dropping back on Thiem’s side of the court. Thiem looked up to Resnik sitting in the stands, yelled, “Happy Birthday, Sepp!”, and thrashed his racquet. Thiem had never destroyed a racquet in a tournament before.

“That’s my gift to you,” he yelled and grinned.

If Resnik had a talent for emotion, his eyes probably would’ve watered. “Yes, that was a beautiful moment,” he says, “Because for my taste, Dominic was too well-behaved on court. I told him, listen, when you get out there, you’re going to be an animal. That out there is not a game , it’s a war. And now… such aggression… a great gift.”

Ever since, he carries around that racquet like a trophy. “Should I get it? It’s out in the car!”

Recently, Sepp Resnik got his very first mobile phone. “So I’m available to Dominic at all times.”

So it goes, day and night.

At the end of last year, Sepp Resnik quit working at the Beverly Hills, the Go-Go bar in Vienna, where he’d spent almost every night for the last twenty years. On November 30th, he’ll have his last day as a soldier. Then, he’ll be a retiree.

He’s looking forward to that, the freedom: “From December 1st on, I’m on permanent vacation.”

And then, almost as if it’s a slip, he adds, “I don’t even know if I’m still up-to-date. In my work with Dominic, I go back 40, 50 years and check whether the standards are still the same. Whether my standards are still up-to-date. This is now an examination on the highest level, how much 40 years of experience are still worth.”

Can you say that the Dominic project reassures your own youth?

“No. You can’t. The Dominic project reassures my life. That all parameters of my life are working.”

Uh, imagine. Failure!

“There is no failure” — there goes old Sepp Resnik again — “failure would only be proof that I made a mistake and have to change something.”

And now to the topic of a grand finale:

“On May 1st, I’ll leave from Rathausplatz, in front of 40.000 people. [Note: Masses actually do congregate on this central spot in Vienna on May 1st. This, however, has nothing to do with Resnik, but with the traditional Labour Day rally.] At the end of my career, one more time: In 80 days around the world. By bike. Get your stuff together, I told my helpers from back then, who’re all now 70, 80 years old, we’ll do it one last time. And if someone has doubts: just come along. Everybody is invited. On May 1st, we’ll ride out of Rathausplatz, turn right, and 80 days later we’ll be coming back, from the left.”

Which course?

“Same as always. Our regular course.”

Right, that would be…

“Vienna, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, from Istanbul through Turkey, through Iran …“

It’s not very pleasant there at the moment, supposedly.


“I’ve ridden through war before, that doesn’t matter. Then on through Pakistan, Balochistan, India. We’ll pack up everything at the embassy in New Delhi, then we’re gonna fly to Australia, Cairns, 4.700 kilometers down along the coast to Sydney, then Hawaii, 600 kilometers around the main island for nostalgic reasons, on the plane to Los Angeles, then across Albuquerque, Pasadena, Washington DC, by plane to Lisbon, then down south via Cadiz, Marbella, up towards Barcelona, Genoa, to the left up into Switzerland, Locarno, Feldkirch, and back home to Vienna.”

“Yes, so it goes,” he says, “day and night.”

http://www.tennisfrontier.com/blogs/tennis-international-access/on-the-cherry-path-an-up-and-coming-player-and-his-unusual-coach/
This is pretty much our bible :worship:
 

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Re: Must read article for every Thiem fan

Can we change the name of this thread to "Articles and Interviews" ?
 

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Interview @theboodles

Dominic Thiem discusses his rapid ranking climb - Interview

by Ian Horne
Posted 18 June 2014


Dominic Thiem is attracting praise from far and wide for his recent performances on the ATP World Tour. Here's what he had to say on his rise to the top tier of professional tennis.

20-year-old Thiem has been one of 2014's breakthrough players, routinely making light work of qualifying rounds and producing a handful of lengthy runs at prestigious events such as the Madrid and Indian Wells Masters. The Austrian started the season ranked outside of the top 100 but continues to ride the wave of his 2013 ascendency and it looks like the sky's the limit for the young gun.

One of the major rewards for Thiem's efforts was a second round showdown against World No. 1 Rafael Nadal at this year's French Open. Thiem's ambition for the season had simply been to make the main draw at Roland Garros, and he joked that "it was a very nice experience to play against him [Nadal] in his living room."

Nadal, as it transpires, is one of the many onlookers to have expressed respect for Thiem's game. "He has very powerful shots, very powerful forehand and good backhand, too," was Rafa's analysis after clinching a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win on the famous red clay.

"A generation is walking away and others will replace us. It will not come overnight, but it will come," added the Spaniard. "I think that this player has a huge potential and could be one of the ones who's going to replace us. His tennis style is really good."

Thiem appreciated the kind words and told me "there is no better praise you can get than from [Nadal] himself." The success doesn't seem to have gone to the Austrian's head and he seems genuinely grateful for the praise. However, he later explains that mutual respect is about as far as his relationship goes with fellow ATP competitors.

"It's a single sport and everybody still wants to keep the young players down. I think they want to keep me down, as I want to keep the younger players down. Everybody wants the best for their selves."

This focused approach appears to have served Thiem well over the past few years in particular. The transition from the junior tour to the professional circuits can be brutal, yet Thiem has made it look seamless. "It's not easy. It's very tough because juniors, you're a star," he said.

"You're living in great hotels, you have your shuttle, your driving service, good food. Then you come to Futures you have basically nothing. Even if you win the Future you make €500 minus. It's a really tough time, but I'm happy that I made it quite fast and if you start to play Challengers there's a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. The ATP tour is where everybody wants to get."

Thiem is now looking forward to arguably the greatest test of tennis ability available, the Wimbledon Championships. He was working on his grass court game on Tuesday at The Boodles, where he was beaten 6-4, 7-6(7) by Kevin Anderson. "I'm quite satisfied with the match today," he explained. "It was very good to play against such a big server like Kevin."

Thiem also revealed that he's not expecting immediate success at Wimbledon but he's content about his progression as a grass court competitor. He's even been working on his serve and volley skills. "I try it especially on grass," he said. "Now the grass is slow, but who knows what happens the next year? Maybe it's getting fast again. I think it's important to have this part of the game also."

Wimbledon has been Roger Federer's main stomping ground throughout most of the past decade and fans of the Swiss may enjoy watching Thiem and his similar one-handed backhand next week. The one-handed approach has lost popularity amongst players in recent years, yet is arguably at the peak of its popularity amongst fans and purists, thanks in no small part to the likes of Federer, Richard Gasquet and Stan Wawrinka. The one-hander is typically something that players appear to be born with, yet Thiem's experience clashes with this assumption.

"I changed from both handed to single handed at 12," he said. "I had quite bad both handed backhand and I think my coach thought that I'm the type of player with a single-handed backhand so he changed me."

Before the interview concluded, Thiem stated that he's already achieved his targets for 2014, at least in terms of results and ranking progression. "I wanted to be main draw at Roland Garros. I made this. Now I just want to be a better player every day and I think for this year I don't set any ranking goals any more."
 

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Only November, right?

Have to respect him for not weaseling out of it, unlike some other tennis players. *cough* Federer *cough*
 

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Only November, right?

Have to respect him for not weaseling out of it, unlike some other tennis players. *cough* Federer *cough*
The "Grundausbildung" (basic military services) is for 5 weeks.
 

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The "Grundausbildung" (basic military services) is for 5 weeks.
Ah thank you, the article only spoke of November, that's why. Have you gone through it as well? What does it consist of?
 

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Ah thank you, the article only spoke of November, that's why. Have you gone through it as well? What does it consist of?
I made the alternative service and worked for 12 months in a care retirement home.

The military service in Austria lasts 6 months, and 5 weeks of this are the "Grundausbildung" (basic military service). I think Dominic doesn't have to be there all the 6 months and only this 5 weeks, which are the hardest ones though as I heard ;)
 

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Interview on 6 August 2014 (Google Translated from German). Source

Interview with Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem is one of the whiz kids this season. Beginning of the year was the 20-year-old Austrian in the ATP world rankings yet to find ranked 139, now he has already cracked the Top 50. His first title on the ATP Tour Thiem missed last week just barely in Kitzbühel. In an interview with LetsTalkTennis speaks of passionate Chelsea fan for once not serve and forehand, but special compliments and the Backstreet Boys.

LetsTalkTennis: When you asked the last time someone for an autograph?

- Dominic Thiem: When my coach Günter Bresnik married. Since Hermann Maier was a guest. But I think it's been more than ten years.


What was the best compliment you've ever received from another player?

- In Paris, as Rafael Nadal has said that I was a future champion. :worship:


When and where did you get the last time you shared with another tennis player a room?

- That was at Wimbledon with Ernests Gulbis. :angel: :angel: :angel:


What was your worst travel experience?

- Really bad was none. From Mexico to Los Angeles, it was however quite turbulent.


What was the last gift that you bought?

- The Chelsea-shirts in London were the most important. But I try to buy at every tournament in every city a trifle.


When did you last time pursued a tennis match via live score?

- I look every day purely in the Live Scores. But tomorrow I will give me secure full length Rico Bellotti against Dennis Novak the Future in Wels. These are two of my best friends.


When were you the last time confused with someone?

- That's never happened to me.


What was the best audience, before whom you have ever played?

- Tough question. Kitzbuhel last week was superhot, but Vienna last year. It is extremely cool to play in front of audiences in Austria.


If you could choose a partner for mixed doubles: Who would it be and why?

- Belinda Bencic, due to the backhand and the return. ;) ;) ;)


When did you have the last time to show your ID when you were in a night club?

- I only go to places where you do not need a passport. :angel: :angel: :angel:


If you could play a game of your career again, what would it be and why?

- Against Santiago Giraldo in Barcelona. I have 4: one out in the third set and the game but still lost ... :sad: :sad: :sad:


What artists do you have on your iPod, for you are ashamed almost a little?

- The Backstreet Boys. :eek: :eek: They recently played a concert in Vienna, and I would have gone back guarantee, I would have been at home.
 

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Tough time. And Bresnik is travelling less? http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2015/05/19/Rome-Thiem-Feature.aspx

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D'ITALIA 2015
THIEM'S TOUGH TIMES
Rome, Italy
by James Buddell | 11.05.2015
Thiem


Dominic Thiem is 10-10 on the year, having risen from No. 137 to 37 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2014.
Life is tough for Dominic Thiem right now. Second season syndrome has struck.

It happens to the majority of players who are forging a career, trying to prove themselves and earn the respect of their peers after a meteoric rise up the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Now a known quantity, confidence boosting results precede deflating losses and the 21 year old is still wrestling to find his game.

“It’s very tough so far,” admits Thiem, after his debut win at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Monday afternoon. “It’s been different defending points every week and having the players know me now.”

But having switched racquets in December, Thiem is beginning to trust his strokes again. “My percentage of serves is better and my second serve is faster, more aggressive,” he says. “I’ve improved my return the most. Of course it is not perfect yet, but I am pretty happy with it now.”

In front of a capacity crowd on Centrale, Monday afternoon, Thiem went some way in turning a corner. In earning a 7-6(4), 7-6(5) victory over Simone Bolelli, a Bologna native enjoying a career resurgence this year, the Austrian withstood six of seven break points in the second set for a two-hour victory.


The harder the fight, the more Thiem seems to knuckle down. “I like to play tie-breaks as that is when it gets interesting. Even when I was young, I enjoyed these kind of matches. When you win in straight sets, where is the challenge?”

In casting aside his early nerves, Thiem has been able to compile a 31-7 record in matches after he has won the first set. Yet, once doubts set in, Thiem begins to “over-think” as evidenced by a 7-33 mark when the opener is lost. “When it is close I know I have a chance. I want it to be interesting.”

Tight wins over Feliciano Lopez and Adrian Mannarino en route to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final (l. to Murray) at the Miami Open presented by Itau, or last week’s victory over Vasek Pospisil in the BMW Open by FWU AG first round emphasize how Thiem is a confidence player. Not a consistent one.

“I am still trying to find my game and a consistent level,” he admits. “That will be my next step. The last year, I played without giving a ****. Now I am starting to think more.”

His 6-4, 6-4 loss to Lucas Pouille in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, immediately after the high of Miami, struck a chord. “After Monte-Carlo, I realised that even if I play well in practice, then I can come into matches and lose. It is tough.”

While Gunter Bresnik continues to provide sage advice, Thiem has turned to the support of his clothing sponsor, and their established mentor program for extra guidance.

As close to 100 spectators watched Thiem train early afternoon, a familiar face circled Court 11 at the Foro Italico, offering advice. Swede Joakim Nystrom, a former World No. 7, is providing another viewpoint and the experience of 30 years on the international tennis circuit.

“Like my parents, who are tennis coaches and know the sport, it is nice to talk in tough times, when I am looking for consistency in performance and my game.”

At No. 49 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, 13 spots off his career-high, Thiem’s backhand remains fluid and effortlessly graceful, while his forehand has extra punch. His personality continues to evolve and, in time, he’ll find his style.
 

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INTERVIEW: Dominic Thiem - Austrian sensation on his way to the top

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by Reem Abulleil
Thursday 30 July 2015

He captured his second title of the season in Umag last Monday and is considered one of the tennis tour’s most promising young prospects. The 21-year-old Austrian, Dominic Thiem, is enjoying a career-high ranking of No24 this week and is one to watch at the US Open next month, where he made the fourth round last season.

With a low-key attitude, Thiem may not be as flashy as his fellow up-andcomers like Nick Kyrgios or Thanasi Kokkinakis, but his powerful game and steady progress could see him go far in the next couple of years.

He’s also armed with a stellar coach, Austrian Gunter Bresnik, who previously worked with Boris Becker. Sport360 caught up with Thiem to find out more about the talented youngster.

How does it feel to be a title winner this season having won in Nice in May and now in Umag last Monday?
I think it’s very important for the self confidence because it was a pretty tough start for me this season, so I’m happy that I managed to turn it around.

Did you feel a lot of pressure of expectation this season, especially with many people tipping you as one of the youngsters to do well on tour?
For sure, yes. Because I had a good rise last year, I had nothing to lose but then of course the expectations go up.

I had some trouble with it at the beginning of the season to defend all the points in my second year, but I think I’m handling it better now.

Last year, you faced Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, which was your first experience on a centre court at a grand slam. How do you look back on that?
I think it was a really good experience for me to play Rafa last year because I played some very good matches before that, so everybody was expecting a little bit (of me).

But not me, because I knew how tough it was to play him in Paris on Centre Court. It was a big lesson for me.

What did you learn from it?
I learnt everything, I think. He was just better in everything, so I knew that I had to improve every part of my game.

What do you consider your biggest strengths?
I think I’m a very powerful player, I can hit good groundstrokes.

I can hit winners in every minute and every position and I think that’s very important that you can play fast nowadays, that you have a big serve and good returns.

Is there a specific match or experience you feel has given you belief you can make it as a pro?
Not really. I think you have to improve every day a little bit, so you don’t have one day where there’s a big thing coming.

Growing up, when did you realise you wanted to do this for a living?
I always wanted to be a professional player but when I started playing well in Challengers and for the first time I did well at ATP tournaments, I saw that these guys are also beatable.

So, I realised I could make a career out of this.

You’ve been with the same coach, Gunter Bresnik, since you were 11-years-old. How would you describe your relationship with him?
It’s a very special relationship. I’m very thankful that he gave me all his time in my career.

I trusted him all the time and he made all my important and good decisions in my life.

What’s his coaching philosophy?
I think his practices are very hard. The groundstrokes are very important and long practices to simulate the match very well.

What’s it like sharing Bresnik with Ernests Gulbis?
There’s many advantages. One disadvantage is when you play each other, it’s tough of course.

But I think for both of us it’s very good because we always have a hitting partner and we can practice together, we don’t need to find one. We are two very different characters, which I also think helps us.

Gulbis is quite the character. What’s it like hanging out with him?
He is a character but he is also different on the tennis court compared to how he is off the court.

He is a really nice person and it’s enjoyable to spend time with him, to talk with him, to go to dinner with him.

Have you learnt much from him?
When we started to practice together I was like 700 in the world.

The way it went up for me when I started practicing with him is enough to be very thankful to him.

You made the Roland Garros junior final. What’s the transition like from juniors to the men’s circuit?
You can’t compare it at all because it’s even tough for juniors to play Futures.

I think you need a couple of years to get the level to compete in men’s events at slams.

How did you initially get into tennis?
My family are tennis coaches and they always brought me to the tennis club.

I basically had no other option than to start playing tennis.

They coached me a little bit when I was young, and then I switched to Gunter.

You’re a Chelsea fan. The club has lost several iconic players who have played for them for a very long time. Does it feel like the end of an era to you as a fan?
Yes, I feel really sad about it because some of them, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech, they were at the club when I became a fan like 10 or 11 years ago.

I’m really happy about the young players. When you’re a fan of the club, you’re going to be a fan forever and of course there are endings and beginnings of new eras.
 
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