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May 15, 2018

Dominic Thiem

Rome, Italy


THE MODERATOR: Let's start. Questions for Dominic, please.

Q. Every time here in Rome, one step more per round; quarterfinal, semifinal. What's your expectation for this time?
DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah. Good confidence last week. I played a very good tournament in Madrid.

Here in Rome, again, not the best draw, I would say. A little bit unlucky again.

But, yeah, I have to see. Last year, I did really well. The change from Madrid to here, it's very different. And I hope I can do it again here.

I hit yesterday a little bit. Today, rain all day so I didn't have that much time to practice. So, we will see. I have a very tough first round against Fabio, which is a very bad draw, actually.

Q. Can you say more about Fabio, your previous match in the past??
DOMINIC THIEM: Well, normally, you don't really know what to expect from him. But I think in Rome it's a little bit different. He's at home here. Amazing fans are here, and the atmosphere is really good for him. So, I think here he always --

He always played well here, last year beat Murray and also in the past had very good results. So I think probably Rome is the toughest tournament to play against him.

Q. We met two or three years ago in Monte-Carlo. What's different to me, for sure, you've changed already. Growing up. Change your face.
Have you lost some kilos? Because you look --

DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, I lost some kilos. But, I don't know how many but, yeah.

Q. Four or five?
DOMINIC THIEM: Maybe. I look different in German.

Q. Can you say something about maybe you are more open in the way you move, in my opinion. It's connected with your life story, or not?
DOMINIC THIEM: I don't know, maybe yes. It's nice, of course.

But I think when you're fresh on tour and you come up, you're a little bit shy and you need to experience everything.

And now it's already my fifth or sixth year on tour. So I know everything. I am more open. I'm maybe more happy to be here and everything. So, that's why maybe.

Q. And your relationship with Gulbis, is it still open? You still have connection with him?
DOMINIC THIEM: I'm in relationship now with Kiki. I finished with Gulbis, and I started with Kiki (laughing).

Q. It's better.

No, it's -- yeah, he's in Vienna practicing. So, when I'm there and he's there, we see each other every day. Actually, before clay court season, we practiced together for two weeks. And he's playing well in practice, playing good.

For him, as well, there was a lot of change. He's a father now so that's, for sure, a big change for him. But in general, we still have a good relationship. And I hope that he still can come back.

Q. What do you think you change the most in the last few months? Because maybe you have a moment you're just a little -- of no great results then respond again.
Something, just improvement in your game, your mind? Do you think you need to change something? Or the second one is about the surface. If you can choose you have to play your live match, you would choose clay or maybe cement?

DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, I will choose clay, for sure. Second question.

And first question, I -- for sure, I improved my game. And the way I played against Rafa last week was the way I imagined myself how I should play. It was a very, very good match. But, I cannot play that way at every match. And that's the long-term goal that I'm able to do this in every single match.

Q. You say you've been on the tour six years now. You feel as if nothing really can surprise you, that you're ready for everything. Do you still feel pressure going into here and, more so, into Roland Garros, or can you be relaxed about that situation now?
DOMINIC THIEM: I could always be relaxed about that. I mean, the worst case which can happen that I lose first round here and I lose first round Roland Garros. But, at the end, I think it's still a game. A sport and a game. And the pressure shouldn't get too much.

Of course, there is some and, of course, there are many thoughts about every tournament, about every major I play. But, at the end, the pressure shouldn't get too much. And the worst which can happen is that I lose early. And it will be also fine.

Q. You beat Rafa three times. Which is the key against him? The last one was just a little bit strange, after previous match when you lost a set. Which is possible to make all the time is against Rafa?
DOMINIC THIEM: I think it's not possible to make it all the time against him. He's too good for that.

And one reason is, for sure, where you play against him. In Madrid and here, it's for sure a little bit easier to play against him than in Monte-Carlo or Roland Garros because it's faster conditions, little bit more ball bounce. So, it's a little bit disadvantage for him; a little bit better for me.

But, I tried to go into the majors against him really with the belief to win. And I think that's the most important.

Because in Monte-Carlo, he killed me in two games. And still in Madrid, I walked on the court with the belief to win. And I think that's the most important thing, even though it's tough to have that belief on clay against him.

Q. You think now in Rome, whole different condition? Because it's different from Monte-Carlo and from Madrid. It's better for you or it's better for him?
DOMINIC THIEM: I think it's a little bit in between Monte-Carlo and Madrid. Monte-Carlo is very, very slow. Madrid is really fast.

Roland Garros it's in between. But against Rafa, everybody has to come up with 100% every single time; otherwise, there is no chance.

And well, of course, I know I could play him in quarters again. But first, there would be two really tough matches for me. So, I don't think about any possible matchup against him.

Q. You have to understand us. We poor journalists are looking for an opponent against Rafa on clay. So, you are the perfect one in our eyes. But, you didn't talk about the Grand Slams. What happened in Grand Slams? Last year you arrived to your match with Rafa. Everybody was waiting for good result. And you, too, maybe in your mind you thought maybe this is my chance. Do you think a best of five sets is better for you because you are more energies, more and more chances, or it's better to him because he has more experience?
DOMINIC THIEM: I think it doesn't really matter if it's three sets or five sets.

But the thing is that, for me -- or last year, it was something really special to play the semifinals there again in Roland Garros. And for Rafa it was, I don't know, the 40th semifinals there.

So it's a huge difference. For me, it's something very new, something very special. And he's so experienced in that.

And I didn't have my best day. And that's the only reason. If you don't have a good day against him, you can go home.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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