December 4, 2020

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Thiem admits ATP Finals bubble is ‘exhausting’ after beating Tsitsipas

3 min read

Thiem came through in three sets (Picture: Getty)

Dominic Thiem got off to a winning start at this year’s ATP FInals, as he avenged his defeat in the 2019 final by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas, but admitted he was finding the enforced “bubble” ‘exhausting’.

Thiem, the world No. 3 from Austria, hit 37 winners in a three-set tussle that lasted two hours and 17 minutes inside a near-empty O2 Arena.

It wasn’t quite one man and his dog stuff, but there were fewer than 80 people in the stands watching on. The O2 can hold around 18,000.

With Britain currently locked down, there are tight restrictions in the ATP Finals bubble and players have to be driven from their hotel despite it being only a six-minute walk away.

And those conditions, combined with a lack of a lift inside the stadium from supporters, has been a mentally draining experience for Thiem – even just one matchday in!

‘I think all the bubble life and the hotel inside is exhausting in a way as well,’ Thiem said on court after his 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3 win in Group London 2020. ‘It’s a very new experience for all of us, with all the testing, and a little bit tension around the world if the tournaments can still go on around the world.

Asked to elaborate in his post-match press conference, he continued: ‘Physically I think it’s the most easiest year since a long time. Today was my 30th match on tour, which is not a big number, but mentally it is tough, because, I mean, you get so much energy from the fans.

‘If you go in the stadium, if you have a huge win like today and you get the atmosphere from 17,000 people, it brings so much positive energy, and all of this is missing.

Tsitsipas was beaten (Picture: AFP via Getty)

‘You have to bring it up yourself during the match. I think today was like two hours 20 or something. You have all the time to push yourself, give yourself energy.

‘Yeah, that’s exhausting. And as well, if you have a long day and then you go in a great city like London or like New York, the city as well gives you nice energy, nice restaurants, hanging out with the people you love.

‘All of this is gone somehow right now, so that makes it difficult. Well, I mean, we are all still very grateful that these big events are happening.

‘We are privileged to be able to do our job, to play those tournaments, so I guess we will, as long as this strange situation is going on, I guess we will have to deal with it.’

Elaborating on the conditions the players are facing in the hotel, Thiem added: ‘Yeah, we have to be driven here.

‘Like I think the whole first or second floor is for us players, and also the floors where the rooms are is only for us players, so we cannot come and touch with people which are not related to tennis, so I think that makes it a very safe environment.

‘But it’s pretty rough because during the whole day we get maybe two, three minutes of fresh air and no sun at all, so that’s it. But, I mean, still it’s great, as I said, that the event is going on.’

The 2020 rematch didn’t quite live up to last year’s tense third-set tiebreak finish and Tsitsipas pointed to the only difference in his mind.

‘Main differences? People in the stands,’ the 22-year-old bluntly replied.

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