Another day, another interview. This time for ITALIAN OPEN

(here you can read the original in Italian)

Thiem the anti-Rafa
in Rome fears Fognini
by Vincenzo Martucci 15 May 2018

Austria Felix. Dominic Thiem revives his country’s late 19th century illusion. “It is slimming: four-five kilos”. He no longer has the acne to devastate his face and so he is no longer afraid to stare into the eyes of those who speak to him: “At the beginning I was a little more shy, but by now I’m in my fifth-sixth year on the Tour, and I’m more open, maybe even happier, than everything”. He’s no longer in a steady relationship with his close-knit friend Ernests Gulbis: “He’s getting ready in Vienna, we’ve been training together on earth for two weeks before the season. There are many changes for him too: now he’s dad. But we always have a nice relationship. I always hope he’ll be back on the Tour”. I joked, I giulivo, the heir of Thomas Muster: “I ended up with Gulbis and I signed with Kiki”.

He always smiles, he can’t even pretend to be really worried about the adventure in Rome: “The change from Madrid to here is very different, I hope I can do as well as the last few years, which have gone from the fourth to the semi-finals, but I have been baling just a little, but then it rained all day, I didn’t have so much time to train. And I have a very hard start, against Fabio (Fognini), whole my draw is very hard, I was a bit ‘unlucky.

Fognini – in Rome it’s better not to meet him: “You never know what to expect from him, but in Rome he’s a bit different: he plays at home, with a wonderful audience and an ideal atmosphere. He’s always playing well here and last year he eliminated Murray, so I think it’s the worst place to face him. But, while he says it, instead of making the face gloomy, the Austrian with the delightful single-handed backhand still smiles, radiant. He has too many reasons to be happy. He has just stuck Rafa Nadal, after 50 consecutive sets won by the left-handed Mallorcan – record on a single surface – and this is the third time he has managed on clay: “Last week I gained a lot of confidence, in Madrid I played a really very good tournament”. And is experiencing an intense love story with the wonder Woman of ladies’ tennis, the French with Slavic parents, Kiki Mladenovic.

Nothing and nobody can remove the happy smile from Dominic’s face. Nothing except that name, Rafa: “I improved my tennis, and how I played against Nadal last week is how I had imagined I would have to do it. At the moment I can’t do that in every match, however, and that’s my ultimate goal”. Because Nadal is waiting for him, most likely at Roland Garros, where last year he also trimmed a humiliating and final 6-0 to the third set: “Last year’s one in Paris, for me was the second semifinals in a row there, for him perhaps the number 40, and playing a game like this at Roland Garros is really special. And also new, for me. I didn’t have my best day, and it’s simple: if it happens against him, go home. And in any case Madrid and Rome are faster, like fields compared to Monte Carlo and Paris…”.

Updated 15.05.2018, 20:24

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