Comeback time for Thiem and Wawrinka

 - Alex Sharp

Grand Slam champions Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka make a welcome return to action on the red clay in Marbella after prolonged injury struggles.

Dominic Thiem / Entraînement Roland-Garros©Loic Wacziak / FFT

There’s an all-star feel on the courts at the Andalucia Open.

The clay court ATP Challenger event welcomes the likes of Fernando Verdasco and Philipp Kohlschreiber to Marbella, Spain, this week and two Grand Slam champions have joined as wild cards.

2020 US Open winner Dominic Thiem and three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka have wrestled with prolonged injury absences to finally return to the match court.

The former world No.3 duo practiced together on Monday, with the Swiss claiming a 7-6, 6-4 victory as they completed their final preparations.

Thiem ready to “work hard and stay humble”

For Dominic Thiem, it’s been nine months of an often painful rehabilitation process from a right wrist injury sustained at the Mallorca Open back in June last summer. The Austrian, currently ranked at No.50, withdrew from the Australian Open to make sure he was ready for battle, but was denied a chance to return to the Tour at the Cordoba Open last month due to pain in between his right knuckles.

During his rehab at Red Bull’s Athlete Performance Centre in Salzburg, Austria, Thiem used a plethora of processes to speed up the recovery, including placing his hand into liquid wax to warm the joints and using electrical pulses to enhance circulation.

Having put in the hard yards and applying plenty of patience, the 28-year-old feels ready to roll.

"I believe this is the right way to start," said Thiem on Instagram. "It's been a very, very tough period for me and to go back to competition is what I have been waiting for so long and as you know I had a lot of setbacks. I know this will be a slow process of getting back to the top level, but I am ready to work hard and start humble."

Thiem will make his long-awaited comeback against world No.228 Pedro Cachin on Tuesday.

Perfect birthday present for Stanimal


It’s certainly a time to celebrate for Wawrinka.

The Swiss blew out the cake candles on his 37th birthday on Monday and is relishing his return.

Wawrinka suffered a foot injury in early 2021 and has not featured on Tour since the Qatar Open in March last year. The former world No.3 then underwent two foot surgeries, fully aware he has to wield his racket with patience in Marbella.

"If I lose but my level is correct, it will not be a disaster or the end of the world as if I was in top shape. I am clear-headed. I know it may take some time to get to where I want to be,” stated the Swiss, taking on Swede Elias Ymer on Tuesday afternoon.

“I'm really happy to be here, I think the week of practice was going well, the level was getting better. I think it was the perfect timing for me because I was starting to feel a bit better physically.”