Dominic Thiem Announces Plan to Retire

Austrian tennis player, Dominic Thiem, has announced that he will retire this season. The 30 year old, from Wiener Neustadt, in Lower Austria, has won over $30m in prize money and landed the 2020 US Open, as well as twice making it to the final at the French Open. He reached number three in the world rankings in March 2020 but in recent seasons has been plagued by injury issues.

Once seen as the heir to Rafa Nadal’s clay-court throne, it was long thought that the crushed brick of Roland-Garros would be where Thiem would claim the first of many Grand Slams. In the end, it seems almost certain he will finish his career with just one Grand Slam, won in New York. He also made the final of the 2020 Australian Open and at that stage he was assumed to be one of the players that would take over from Roger Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

However, perhaps the many matches he played during a very successful 2020 took their toll, as by mid-2021 it was apparent he was having serious issues with his right wrist. He reported hearing a crack and had to retire from the 2021 Mallorca Championships. He hoped he might be able to play again that year but the issue did not resolve itself and he announced in August that he would not return to action until 2022.

Unable to play for a long time, when he did eventually return results were poor as he continued to struggle. He dropped out of the top 300 in the world and didn’t win a single match, at any level, for 14 months. Confidence, psychological issues (relating to his injury and decline) and the lingering wrist problem itself all played their part but very gradually Thiem was able to rebuild his career.

He returned to the top 100 in autumn 2022 but was still a shadow of his former self. He made the final of the 2023 Austrian Open, his home event, but lost in straight sets. However, that was his first final at that level since the ATP Finals in 2020 and there was hope he might be able to progress to at the very least become a regular contender.

It wasn’t to be though, and now the former world number three is hoping he can play in one last Austrian Open this October. He explained why he was calling time on his career, stating that, “There are some reasons behind it: firstly, of course, my wrist. It is not exactly the way it should be and how I want it… (second) my inner feeling: I have been thinking about this decision for a very long time.”

Bowing out on home soil at the Austrian Open would give Thiem a chance to say goodbye to his fans and he will hope he can at least win a match or two. It is unclear how much he will play between now and then but Thiem joins Andy Murray (probably) in retiring this year, both hoping for one last hurrah in front of their own supporters.

Just How Good Might Thiem Have Been?

Over the years and across every sport that is played, there have been countless great talents whose potential was unfulfilled, be that due to injury, bad luck, personal and psychological issues or anything else. Assessing what they might have achieved is always difficult and ultimately probably pointless.

Thiem has always handled his injuries with great dignity and in announcing his retirement has appeared grateful for the career he had, rather than regretful about the one he might have had, could have had or should have had. He said, “I’ve had success and trophies which I never dreamt of. It was an incredible journey.” He went on to add, “In the end I came to the conclusion that this decision to end my career at the end of this season is the only right one.”

But even so, the rest of us can certainly wonder what might have been. Thiem is not big by modern standards, at 6ft 1in, and neither is he particularly powerfully built. However, his serve and groundstrokes were very forceful, with his single-handed backhand particularly useful on clay against a high bounce. He was very strong mentally too and it is hoped that this will help him in his move from being a professional sportsperson into a post-tennis career.

As said, we will never know what might have been, but with even Djokovic seemingly edging towards the end of his domination, and Carlos Alcaraz perhaps not as ready to take over as many thought, we have to believe Thiem would have won at least a couple more Grand Slams had he stayed fully fit.

Thiem Career Summary

Dominic Thiem celebrates with Champagne
Credit Celso Pupo via Bigstockphoto

The Austrian’s career is not quite over yet but it would take a miracle of Leicester City’s Premier League triumph-proportions for him to win more than a few matches in what is left of it. However, he can be very proud of his career and one stat that illustrates just how good he was for a reasonably extended period is that he still sits 13th on the all-time ATP career prize money leaderboard.

Considering how long his career was in the doldrums that is mighty impressive and whilst prize money isn’t necessarily the best way to assess a player’s impact, Thiem’s impressive winnings have to be respected. More than that, though, we should think about his four Grand Slam finals appearances and one win, in an era when three of the all-time greats made even making the last two quite the achievement. He also twice made it through to the final of the ATP Finals.

But Thiem did not just make finals, he also won plenty as well, boasting 17 career titles, including success in the hugely prestigious Indian Wells, an ATP Masters 1000 event, in 2019. We wish him well from now until October, at his final tournament in Austria.