Thiem riding the 'happy wave' from New York

US Open champion is thrilled by his start at Roland-Garros despite limited prep for a title run in Paris

 - Alex Sharp

Dominic Thiem continues to ride the wave from becoming US Open champion.

The adrenaline is still coursing through his body, the joy is still flickering. At some point the world No.3 is expecting a crash, when his New York exertions catch up on him.

"I feel pretty good, to be honest, not perfect. I think the main thing is that I fight 100 per cent like I did today and it paid off,” said the 2018 and 2019 Roland-Garros finalist.

“Physically it's okay, but all the emotions, all the mental part was really tough and demanding in New York. But it is what it is.

“I'm still a little bit on the happy wave of New York. Of course, at one point I'm going to get super tired. I guess all the tension and focus on Roland-Garros, it's hiding still the tiredness and everything. I hope I can push it as far as I can.”

The 27-year-old is adamant his approach can be different as a major champion; he now has the complete picture, he’s experienced the full range of emotions and scenarios.

“There is a huge difference because being so close in front of the finish line, then finally take this one step to cross it. It's amazing to reach finals, but it's also not easy on the other hand, especially after Australia this year,” continue the third seed, who fell to Novak Djokovic in the Melbourne finale back in February.

“I heard so many people saying, ‘Yeah, anyway you going to win a slam soon, you will win slams in your career'. At the end I didn't make it yet, so that was not easy. Me and also all the other players know how tough it is to get to deep stages of a slam, to give yourself chances to win one. At the end I was concerned after Australia. I'm very happy that this is finally out of my mind.”

Since being on the grounds in Paris, Thiem has been congratulated across the board from ATP and WTA stars. “I had a feeling that everybody was very happy for me. That means a lot to me.”

The feel-good factor has continued on court too, as he navigated past former world No.8 and qualifier Jack Sock 6-1, 6-3, 7-6(6) into the third round on Wednesday.

“I didn’t have much time at all to prepare for this tournament. It’s completely different conditions than New York. I’m trying to find my game, but I’m very happy with it so far. I’ve faced Cilic and Sock, two (former) top 10 players, two true champions,” assessed the Austrian. 

“It wasn’t an easy draw at all. That's very important in the early rounds, to save energy, so I’m very happy I didn’t drop a set yet and I hope I can raise my level even more in the next one, that’s the main goal for the first week.”

Sock, who took a set off Rafael Nadal in the 2015 fourth round, grew into the contest and threatened to conjure up a comeback at three set points up in the third set tiebreak. However, Thiem was brave in his execution and refused to relent, storming to victory with the final five points. 

“It’s the physicality of it. He puts similar revolutions on the ball to someone like Rafa, even me, and he then makes it a very physical game,” reflected Sock, analysing why Thiem is so difficult to face on clay.

“I think his discipline on the court, with his patterns, he doesn't really stray away from them too often. He looks obviously to dictate with the forehand."

“Once he's in control of the points, or playing ahead in the score, he's tough to catch. His ball is tough to catch up to out there, similar to a Rafa. If the opponent is getting tired at all, his game will devastate you even more. The discipline, the physicality, it doesn’t get much tougher on this surface.”

The in-form 28th seed Casper Ruud, a five-set winner over former junior champion Tommy Paul, will present the next opponent.

“Ruud is way too good both to think already deeper in the tournament. Well, all the focus is tomorrow to have a good day off, to get the energy back, to have a good little practice, and then all energy and all the mentality into round three." 

With all the energy and all the mentality, Thiem continues to surf that wave.