It was a big day for tennis on Wednesday. ATP and WTA revealed the schedule for the rest of the season. A tennis tour will restart in August, and we should see two Grand Slams in summer and autumn.
What will stars do?
With schedules in place, a heated debate of fans and players started. Currently, it is not clear who will play what. Everybody is interested in what will the biggest tennis stars do. We are guessing that Nadal will skip tournaments in the USA (including US Open). Federer is officially taking the rest for the rest of 2020. And what will Novak Djokovic do? I doubt he knows it at the moment.
However, I did not notice one big name to be in the discussion. Dominic Thiem. What will the future Grand Slam winner do? Which tournaments will he play?
Dominic Thiem: Future Grand Slam Winner for sure
I believe that Dominic Thiem is the number one on the shortlist of future Grand Slam winners. He is 26 years old and entering the prime days of his career. And I do not say it just because of his recent Adria Tour in Belgrade win.
Everybody can see significant progress in Thiem’s performance (and results) in past months and years. Once a solid clay player is now also a great hard-surface entertainer. His track record of tournament wins starts to be impressive.
Just look at his Roland Garros results. He was two times in semifinals (2016, 2017) and two times in finals (2018, 2019 – both lost with Nadal). Except that he won another ten clay tournaments in his career. Those who doubted Thiem’s play on the hard surface should look at his Australian Open 2020 finals (Loss in five sets with Djokovic) or his triumph at Indian Wells over Federer in 2019.
Dominic Thiem is getting better every day. I believe he was ready to win Roland Garros this year. The “COVID-19” break came at the worst time for him.
Impact of scheduling
Unfortunately, the new schedule makes the task of winning Grand Slam much harder. The packed schedule when clay season starts immediately after the US Open can disrupt his plans. He and his team need to make a tough decision about tournaments he will play.
First of all, he will not play in Kitzbuhel. The tournament in his home country is tempting, but the ATP rules forbid his participation. ATP Top 10 players can play Kitzbuhel ATP 250 tournament just if they play US Open and suffer loss in the first three rounds. All other tournaments in the calendar will be happy to have Dominic Thiem on acceptation list.
Now, the question is: Will Dominic play tournaments in New York (Cincinnati and US Open), or will he focus solely on clay?
He was always a bit better on clay compared to the hard surfaces. His best result at the US Open so far was quarterfinals in 2018. However, this year if some good players (e.g., Nadal or Djokovic) will not participate at the US Open, the window of opportunity to a breakthrough in New York will be significant.
If I consider Thiem a favorite for the US Open, then I need to find a better word for his chances at Roland Garros. I have no doubts he will challenge Nadal this year again. And if Nadal will not participate at the US tournaments, then Dominic Thiem should think about it too. Playing 13 more matches on hard and just two weeks of preparation on clay is not a good starting point against Nadal.
What would I recommend to Dominic Thiem?
I would say, do not speculate too much. Go for it and play your best everywhere. After five months without tournaments, Thiem should be rested very well. In my opinion, the best possible schedule is:
|August 22 – August 29||Western and Southern Open|
[usually played in Cincinnati, this year played in New York]
|August 31 – September 13||US Open||Grand Slam|
|September 13 – September 19*||Madrid*||ATP 1000*|
|September 20 – September 26||Rome||ATP 1000|
|September 28 – October 11||Roland Garros||Grand Slam|
*If Thiem wins US Open (or got into the second week of the tournament), then he will probably skip the Madrid tournament. The transition from hard to clay can not be done in one or two days.
We saw just three names on the list of Grand Slam Winners in the past four seasons [2017 – 2020]. Nadal and Djokovic won five times, Federer won three Grand Slams in this period. Now the time for a new Grand Slam winner has come. And I believe it will be Dominic Thiem. He just needs to make the right decisions.