Dominic Thiem, who won his first Masters title at Indian Wells, says the victory gives him a lot of momentum going into the clay-court season.
Thiem fell ill following the Australian Open and was lacking confidence in his game and fitness coming into Indian Wells, but played some of his best tennis to capture the biggest title of his career. He told ATP TennisTV that even he was surprised at the turnaround.
"I came in down in every aspect," Thiem said during an interview at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he is competing this week. "I really picked it up there."
And despite an opening round exit in Miami, the win meant he entered his clay-court training with a lot of energy. "It was the biggest title so far in my career, so of course there were emotions I haven't experienced," he said. "I was coming back with a lot of confidence and very happy and really pumped."
While his Masters breakthrough would up coming on hard-courts, clay is Thiem's preferred surface. He was won two-thirds of his titles on it and reached the 2018 French Open final. Now he could be an even bigger contender for the biggest clay titles.
"It's always my most important time of the season with my biggest title of the season, Roland Garros, coming up," he said. "There are three Masters 1000s events, one 500 and maybe one 250 so there are so many points to play for and only great tournaments."
Thiem is scheduled to play the Masters events at Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome and the 500 event at Barcelona. Speaking to press at Monte Carlo, he confirmed he will be accompanied by new full-time coach Nicolas Massu during the clay-court season.
But the competition is tough, Thiem noted.
"In general, the level of men's tennis is pretty high at the moment. I think everybody has to be full power on from the first point of every match, myself as well. That is what I will try," he said.
Thiem is No. 5 in the rankings.