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May 19, 2017

Dominic Thiem

Rome, Italy

D. THIEM/R. Nadal

6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You have been on a steep learning curve since your defeats at the hand of Nadal in Barcelona and Madrid. Clearly you came into this match with a very aggressive mindset. Can you talk about that, please.
DOMINIC THIEM: Of course I came in with a very aggressive game style, because I knew that if I want to have a chance, then I have to do something different and be more aggressive.

I knew that if it goes in, everything, maybe I have a chance. If not, maybe I also lose easy. But today was one of these days where I really felt the ball great on the racquet, and a lot of risky shots went in.

It was a very, very good performance and I think probably one of my best matches.

Q. It's not easy to ask to see someone with a one-handed backhand who push on the Rafa forehand during a point. For you is normal?
DOMINIC THIEM: No, it's not normal. It's very, very difficult. In Madrid and Barcelona I stepped back a little bit. Today I tried to step in also with the backhand. Of course I had some tough shots, some very high points of the shot.

Well, as I said, I mean, I played a very risky style of game today. Luckily a lot went in.

Q. I know you have done it before, but in terms of just achievements in tennis, beating Nadal on clay, how big of a mountain is that to sort of climb?
DOMINIC THIEM: It's a great achievement for me, especially -- I mean, even against him, if you're up a set and a break, you never feel safe because he just doesn't give you one easy point. So you really have to finish the match off, and that's what I did today with a little bit of troubles in my last service game.

I mean, he's this kind of player who never gives up probably. Probably the best fighter in tennis. Especially on clay it's, for sure, one of the toughest things to beat him.

Q. What would you say is the biggest change or improvement in your game this season compared to the last one?
DOMINIC THIEM: I think the serve and the return. The percentage of the first serve got higher, and I don't serve that fast anymore but around 200 and a lot of first serves in.

And then the return got better. I mean, I mix it up better. Yesterday against Querrey was very tough to return. At the end I put quite a lot in, and also today I was standing a little bit closer to the line on the serve. I think that's the biggest difference between this year and last.

Q. If you could choose, do you prefer Djokovic or Del Potro?
DOMINIC THIEM: It's a very tough situation in tennis. I mean, you have a big win, and the next day there is Djokovic or Del Potro waiting (smiling).

It remains very, very difficult. But, yeah, they are both unbelievable, big players. I think it's going to be a tough match between them today. Whoever wins, I have to take on tomorrow.

Q. Do you think the court today was pretty quick? I mean, sometimes he didn't have the time to return your strong shots. He has a wide movement, especially with the forehand, and he was hitting with the frame because your balls were too quick for him today. Does it happen often or is just a different thing today?
DOMINIC THIEM: No, the court was not very quick. I think it's probably slower than Madrid and faster than Monte-Carlo, so it's a normal clay court.

But I just took the balls pretty early today, and that's why I took a little bit of time from him.

Q. Would you have found the crowd to be a little bit more Rafa sided? It was pretty much the same for you and him today. Were you surprised?
DOMINIC THIEM: I mean, it was a great atmosphere, but I think it was pretty even. But if the crowd would be for him more, of course I would understand for everything he has achieved.

But I think they were really fair. It was a great atmosphere out there. Very enjoyable for both of us.

Q. For you is not a surprise to see you and Zverev of this high level in the big tournaments. Do you think it is a new moment for tennis? Because is a big tournament, this one. It's before Roland Garros. What you can say about this, two young like you and Zverev, this high level?
DOMINIC THIEM: As I like him a lot, I'm very happy for him that he also plays first semifinals in a Masters, and at the age of 20 it's very early. I think it's a little bit of change this year in tennis, because many, many people can go deep in the big tournaments. I think we didn't see this that much the years before, and let's see how it goes on here and also the French Open.

Q. Do you find Nadal a little tired, less speed? Because he said that he played Barcelona/Madrid back to back, like you, anyway, but deserve to rest a little.
DOMINIC THIEM: For sure, I mean, he won Monte-Carlo, won Barcelona, won Madrid. That's amazing. And of course after three big tournaments and after that many matches, you get a little bit tired. That's normal.

That's just a normal thing after that many matches.

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