Dominic Thiem warned the path back to the top will be ‘extremely difficult’ following long injury absence

Shahida Jacobs
Dominic Thiem shadow

Dominic Thiem faces a long road back to the top with his fellow Austrian Thomas Muster warning he could find himself around No 100 in the ATP Rankings next year.

The 2020 US Open champion has not played competitive tennis since June when he suffered a wrist injury. He was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon while he also missed the defence of his title at Flushing Meadows.

The Austrian, who has slipped to No 9 in the rankings, gave a positive update earlier in October as he revealed he would soon “slowly start playing tennis again” with his aim firmly set on a return to action in the new year.

Dominic Thiem has ‘very, very good news’ as he gives positive update on wrist injury

However, Muster warns it is unlikely that Thiem would hit the ground running next year and could soon find himself much lower down the rankings.

In an interview with Kurir, Muster said: “I believe that he will be back again in 2023. Next year it will be extremely difficult. You just have to look at the ranking, if the Covid points are gone, he will be around No 60 in the world. If he can’t defend the round of 16 at the Australian Open, and it gets difficult at the beginning, he’ll be around 100.

“And from there he won’t even make it into all of the main competitions. He has to get used to everything again, as a result of this injury. Daily training or match practice, everything has to come back first.”

Thiem struggled for form before his season-ending injury as he failed to reach the final of any tournament, losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open and the first round at the French Open.

Muster believes the added pressure of being a Grand Slam champion took its toll.

“He sacrificed everything for the big goal that would happen at the US Open and not, as one could expect, at the French Open, which probably came as a surprise to him too,” he said.

“Suddenly he has achieved a career goal. On top of that, the expectations of the fans have increased enormously. That creates pressure.”