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February 6, 2021

Dominic Thiem

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Great run here last year. How much are you looking forward to starting the 2021 Australian Open?

DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, a lot obviously. Last year so great memories. Hell of a run, hell of a tournament in general just with last little step missing. I always love to look back at the 2020 edition and can't wait that the tournament starts on Monday or Tuesday for me.

Yeah, it's like now more than three weeks in Australia, so I'm more than ready that the tournament starts.

Q. You've had a relatively low-key week this week. Is that how it's felt to you? Do you think that's been ideal for you to focus on the two weeks coming up?

DOMINIC THIEM: It's been low-key, yeah. If you see, like, the results of Matteo in the other two matches he was playing probably his best tennis. That loss was fine. Then yesterday unfortunately Benoit had to retire, so I had two pretty quick matches.

Yeah, but that's with the shorter version of the ATP Cup and everything, it was possible that this is going to happen. I have to live with that, try to use these last two days of practice today and tomorrow to be as ready as possible on my first match.

Q. What do you think about the conditions and the surface? Somebody said this year the ball bounces higher than usual. Maybe the weather condition might be different than last year and it affects some situations.

DOMINIC THIEM: Everybody I talk to is saying that the surface is very fast, faster than last year. I also have the feeling that it's that way. I think they resurfaced, so it's a new surface again, but way faster than last year, little bit more slippery, as well. Probably it's better for some other players than last year.

Q. Obviously the vibe has been entirely different for the buildup this time. Has it felt different not having Roger here? People recently talked about the big three players. Now that's not going to be a factor. Has that sort of come into your feelings this last couple of weeks?

DOMINIC THIEM: Not really. The buildup was very different this year with quarantine, more than three weeks until the start of the Australian Open, almost no fans at the ATP Cup. That was very different. In normal years or the last years, this Grand Slam is so crowded with happy people around, with so many people around. That has been so different.

But I think Rafa and Novak are here. They are both still on the top of their game. Also I think that everybody is happy when Roger comes back in Doha, so probably this is one of the last weeks where he's not playing. One very strong opponent less, so everybody should enjoy (smiling).

Q. Have you thought much about what happened here last year? Does that come into your mind? You said they were good memories, but does it come into your mind a couple days away from the start of the tournament?

DOMINIC THIEM: No, not now. But I was thinking so much about that tournament, especially about the lost finals in the first part of the lockdown. I mean, I was only playing Rio after here and then going to Indian Wells and then the lockdown started. Especially the first three or four weeks I had so much time to think about everything, to reflect on everything, what was happening. It was not a nice thought because maybe it was the best tournament I've ever played, six amazing matches, especially quarters against Rafa and semis against Sascha. They were outstanding matches. Also the finals against Novak was so good. Still I didn't win it, so that was so painful. So many thoughts about it.

Well, the US Open title, it deleted everything somehow. I wouldn't have won it probably. Probably way stronger in my mind. But now I just try to recall all the positive memories and positive energy from last year. As I said, it was an outstanding two weeks for me.

Q. Had you not reached the final in Melbourne, do you think you might not have won the US Open last year?

DOMINIC THIEM: I don't know. Nobody really knows. I think if I would have reached quarters or semis here and lose a tight match against Rafa or Sascha, I would still be the same because these two matches were so good and so close. The outcome could have been either way. That's the only thing.

The only thing I know, as well, if I wouldn't have won the US Open finals, I don't know what's happening, if I would sit here or be at home sad.

Q. That was an interesting quote you had not that long ago, that you had doubts. Now that you won a major, you feel your career, irrespective of what happens from now, is very good.

DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, it's different. If I look at the whole career, no matter what happens from now on, I look happy on it. It's a great, great career.

But as I step on the court, it doesn't really matter. I just want to be better than the opponent on that special day. In the big perspective, it feels way better now. It feels way more complete now.

Q. Two weeks quarantine here, the bubble in New York and Paris. If you can choose in terms of preparation, which do you prefer?

DOMINIC THIEM: Prefer that it's going to be normal again. Well, I hope this is the last major where there is quarantine and bubble. Maybe still there is this year, nobody knows.

It was a long time here, more than two weeks in quarantine, with long time spent in the hotel room. But it's fine. We got used to it. We played three majors now in a bubble. Here we had to quarantine. But now we can go out and have dinner and everything, so that's much better.

Maybe I prefer this one here. As I said, hopefully it was the last one with quarantine and bubble. Maybe everything, the whole situation, is improving soon.

Q. We don't know if the Tokyo Olympics is happening or not. If it happens, do you prefer to play? What is your passion on the Olympics?

DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, if it's happening, I want to play. I changed a little bit in my mind about the Olympics when I saw it in 2016, what it meant to the players to win a medal. It's probably a big goal, big wish for myself to win the Olympic medal maybe this year or '24 in Paris.

Q. What is the psychology at a tournament when one player has so dominated, such as Nadal in Paris, and Novak in Melbourne?

DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, I mean, I said already before I came in Australia, if these two guys are competing at a tournament, I think they are still the top favorites. A little bit ahead of the other players, including me.

I think, especially Novak here in Australia, because he won it eight times, he's the top favorite for the title, no doubt.

Q. What do you think it is that makes him so strong at this tournament?

DOMINIC THIEM: I think conditions are suiting his game perfect. Then obviously if you win a tournament so many times -- well, I don't know how it is (smiling). But you get automatic confidence somehow. One thing what's maybe little bit different this year is that the last years he had unbelievable support from the crowd. I think many Serbian people living here, they all came here to support him. Was such a nice atmosphere for him.

Well, that's the only thing what's not probably the same this year.

Q. Your first opponent, Mikhail Kukushkin, it will be your first meeting. What do you think about this match?

DOMINIC THIEM: It's always very interesting to face somebody for the first time, as it doesn't happen that often any more. Now probably I faced almost everybody from the top players. He's one of the last ones I never played.

I saw many matches of him. Of course, I have an idea how he's playing. But still I'm going, today and tomorrow, going to watch some videos, little bit analyzing of his game, my game. Then I hope I'm prepared well for our first round.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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