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INTERNAZIONALI BNL D'ITALIA

May 13, 2019

Dominic Thiem

Rome, Italy

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Seems like you're playing a lot fewer events than in past years. Is that a change in philosophy? What brought that about?
DOMINIC THIEM: I do what, sorry?

Q. You play fewer events, fewer tournaments week-to-week.
DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, I mean, I'm also three years older than I was back then. I think with the age, I have to take little bit more care of myself.

My goal is to play less tournaments, for sure, but to play well in every single tournament I play. Since Indian Wells, I'm very, very happy with my performances. It's working out really good so far. I'm trying to keep that good shape and good momentum up.

Q. How does having a girlfriend like Kristina Mladenovic help you overcome difficult moments?
DOMINIC THIEM: Is very nice because it's easier that she understands everything of this job. It's not a drama when we leave each other because she knows that we both have to travel a lot. That she knows this job perfectly makes everything much easier. We can help each other a lot.

Q. It's been a different sort of season on clay so far on the men's side because the biggest titles have been won by different people. Does it feel different to you as a player? Different vibe around the tour, different sense of opportunity than maybe other years where Nadal would win them all, let's say?
DOMINIC THIEM: I think it's nice for us players, but also for the crowd and for the fans, I guess. There are, I would say, five, six, seven men who can win every single tournament.

For me personally, Rafa is always going to be the No. 1 contender, closely followed by Novak now because he's at his best again right before the French Open. Then there's another group, four, five, six players which I think also can win almost every week a big title.

Q. When you were playing more events, is that a confidence thing? You feel like you needed to play more often to keep your confidence? Why was that the case before?
DOMINIC THIEM: No, I think when I was younger, I needed that. It was tough for me to come to a big event without any matches before. I kind of was looking for getting confidence with some smaller events maybe.

But I'm also way more experienced now, so I can play the bigger events also without the smaller events before. It doesn't mean I'm not going to play the smaller events. I really love them. Still I'm also getting older every year. Every single year as a tennis player is also a lot of effort, a lot of traveling, all this. I have to really take care about everything.

At the end if I play, I don't know, like last year, 22, 23 tournaments, it's a good number.

Q. What has Massu changed in your game or approach to tennis since he started working with you?
DOMINIC THIEM: Since I started working with?

Q. With Nicolas.
DOMINIC THIEM: I think that my game got more unpredictable. That's one big part. I mean, I have amazing groundstrokes. I've learned them. It was amazing with Gunter, but last few years sometimes I had the problems that I made amazing shots, but the game was too unpredictable somehow. At certain times I had the feeling opponents know where I'm going to play. I was hitting amazing shots which should be winners, but they haven't been. I am adding some options to my game now, like some dropshots, some other shots which I wouldn't hit before.

When I was really young, I had an amazing talent to read the game and everything. That got a little bit lost. Now I have a really nice feeling that's somehow coming back.

Q. There's been a trend this year of ATP players practicing with some WTA players. Serena has done it with Grigor, other pairings. With Kiki or anybody else, have you ever considered doing that? Something you would be open to trying?
DOMINIC THIEM: Well, I hit sometimes with her. Especially the cross-courts, they give a very good rhythm, the girls. But not when it comes close to a tournament. I mean, most of the times they have different balls than us, so that's a big thing why we can't do it.

Sometimes it's very nice to give a nice rhythm. I did it on the first day when I arrived to Indian Wells. Why not? It's a lot of fun. Good thing.

Q. Is there any woman besides Kiki you'd be curious to practice with, to see their ball?
DOMINIC THIEM: Not really. Maybe she gets jealous otherwise (smiling).

Q. 2014 French Open you won just seven games against Rafael Nadal. Back in the day, would you have thought to be one of the top favorites in the tournament five years after?
DOMINIC THIEM: I didn't win many more games last year in the finals (smiling).

Not really, I didn't think that I'm going to go with the expectations or with the wish to win the tournament five years ago. Back then I was ranked, I don't know, 80 or 70. My thought was just to stay there, to stay in the top 100, make a decent career. Of course, I was never hoping to be top 5 or something.

But it's a good thing. Really happy how my career went so far. But I want to get even better and to reach even higher goals.

Q. Can you explain to us what happens on clay, Grand Slam tournaments, five sets? For you what is going to change with the long distance with your game, your opponents? Can you explain to us what exactly is the difference.
DOMINIC THIEM: It's pretty different because in best-of-three match, you have to be on full fire from the first point on. All match long basically it's not allowed to have some up and downs.

I think in the five-setter, it is not possible. At one point each of the two players going to have a little bit of a down, then an up again.

I think if you play Grand Slam tournaments, from the first match on, full power from mental side and physical side, you're not going to make it. You have to stay little bit more relaxed, I would say, than in a best-of-three tournament.

Just save all your powers, mentally and physically, for the later matches and for the end of the two weeks because it's going to be very long. It's going to be long matches. All the time this feeling to be in the tournament takes a lot of energy from the body.

It's the most important thing to really save the energy.

Q. I'm surprised many more players with a one-handed backhand are beating Rafa. Are you surprised as well? You're a rarity these days in tennis.
DOMINIC THIEM: No, I think if you have very good one-handed backhand, it's not a problem. It's maybe even a little advantage on clay. Like Tsitsipas or me, we can go back and we can really play so much spin with the one-handed backhand.

I think this is not possible with a two-handed. With a two-handed you have to do like Novak, be on the line, take the ball on the rise, which is so tough. I think this is almost impossible.

If you have a good one, if you have a fast one, it's not a disadvantage.

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