Tennis star Dominic Thiem on how he's dealing with inactivity

© Philip Platzer/Red Bull Content Pool
Written by Günter Baumgartner
Instead of battling for titles, tennis star Dominic Thiem is currently training at home. In this interview, he tells us how he's spending his time and how he keeps himself physically and mentally fit.
Having finished the 2019 season in the world's top-five and started the 2020 campaign by making a major final at the Australian Open, Dominc Thiem's prospects were looking great until lockdown.
The pause in the tennis season has so far meant that Thiem has missed his favourite part of the year – the clay swing – and with the resumption of the tour possibly some distance away we caught up with the Austrian, who suddenly has more time on his hands than usual.
Dominic, you've been back in Austria for some time and are spending the tournament break at home. How are you dealing with the unusual situation?
Hi I’m fine. Of course, the situation is something completely new. But I'm trying to make the best of it. I stay motivated every day with goals that I still have in front of me. But also by remembering the most beautiful and best experiences that I’ve had on the tennis court. The most recent incredible experience at the Australian Open wasn't that long ago. I motivate myself with these kinds of experiences. This is extremely important for me because it’s the only way to train at 100 percent every day.
Does that mean that you're also trying to complete a streamlined fitness programme at home?
My daily routine is pretty unspectacular at the moment. I sleep relatively late every day. Then it's time for fitness training: torso, abs, back, upper body, legs – as much as it’s possible to do at home. After that I try to go running every day as well. Most of the time I’ve finished everything relatively early, around 5 or 6 p.m. Then it's onto the sofa, watching TV, making calls and playing on PlayStation with friends.
Playing FIFA 20 at home is definitely my favourite. There are 14 friends and we play online. We each control one player. We're all connected by the headset, so we get to have the contact that we're not allowed to have in person at the moment. It’s great fun.
I’m sure some positive things can be taken from a difficult time like this.
Tennis player Dominic Thiem during training in Tenerife, Spain on December 12, 2018.
Dominic Thiem
What do you miss the most?
Of course, I miss a lot of things. Above all, a normal social life. Just to go out and do whatever you want. I'm really missing that. And of course, I can't do my job at the moment.
Dominic Thiem rejoicing during the ATP World Tour, Grand Slam, Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia on January 29, 2020.
Dominic Thiem celebrates at the Australian Open
How do you think the current situation will affect society?
I’m sure some positive things can be taken from a difficult time like this. I hope that society learns from this situation. And that we come to the conclusion that too much globalisation, if everything gets too big and too fast, is simply not good. Neither for the planet, for people themselves, nor for the environment. I hope that in the future everything will settle down again to a normal level.
Usually you are on tour all the time. What’s it like being at home for so long and how long will you be able to cope with it?
From 100 to 0! From 'on the road every week' to 'only at home'. But it's totally OK for me because I'm trying to make the best of the situation. I don't want to struggle with the situation because we're all in the same boat. There are more important things now than the tennis tour or anything else. It's about people's health. I’m just trying to deal with this period as positively as possible. What gives me strength is the time with my brother, my family and my dog. And virtually with my friends. These are things that I usually don't get round to. So, in that respect, I’m enjoying the time a bit.
An image of tennis player Dominic Thiem with his family.
The Thiem family
Is 'switching off' important to you?
Recuperation and switching off are at least as important as the training itself. And of course, coming home is extremely important to me. This is where I recover the fastest, especially mentally. And if I can't go home between tournaments, I try sightseeing. There's always something new to experience in the cities we visit.
How will the current period affect the rest of the season?
Of course, it will have a massive impact on my remaining season, but that's the same for everyone on the tour. It means everyone will have to adjust. We'll have to wait and see when it starts again. Then I'll work out with my team how we can optimally prepare for it and plan the rest of the season.
Dominic Thiem performing during the ATP Tour 2019 Vienna, Austria in Vienna, Austria on October 27, 2019.
Dominic Thiem serves during his title-winning run in Vienna
You were in great shape until the break. Will you be able to 'preserve' this shape?
I've played so much tennis in my life that keeping my form isn't difficult for me. From the moment I can start training with the ball, the feeling will come back very quickly. There is now such a long break until the next tournament that there'll be enough time to get back into top form.
I've played so much tennis in my life that keeping my form isn't difficult for me
Tennis player Dominic Thiem during training in Tenerife, Spain on December 12, 2018.
Dominic Thiem
There are still many highlights of the season to come. How do you manage to stay mentally fit as well?
Mental fitness is extremely important, especially in Grand Slams and the long best-of-five set matches. On the one hand, mental fitness comes from experience on the tour. On the other hand, I also try to work on it during training. If I can achieve my performance in training for up to four hours, it will also be easier to use my strengths during the match. The physical aspect is also very important. Because if I know that I'm going into a match in top form and I can run for four or even five hours without any problems, then I'm also mentally at a top level!