On Monday, world No. 5 Dominic Thiem moved through to his first Australian Open quarterfinal after brushing aside No. 10 seed Gael Monfils, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
His performance on the court was impressive—zero break points faced, 31 winners to 19 unforced errors and less than two hours of work—but increasing his undefeated reign over Monfils to 6-0 didn’t turn out to be his biggest story of the day.
Thiem is now three wins away from winning his first major, and a curious tradition his mother Karin began last March, which Jim Courier revealed to the Rod Laver Arena audience, is now realistically in play.
Courier asked, “I heard that for every tournament title you win, she gets a tattoo. Is that true?”
The Austrian smiled, before verifying, “Unfortunately, I have to confirm it,” he said as he adorably struggled to hold back chuckles. The crowd joined in with roars of laughter, with Thiem adding. “I really would like to deny it, but no.”
Thiem put together his strongest body of work in 2019, winning five titles, including three on hard courts, and finished runner-up at Roland Garros and the ATP Finals. But as the 26-year-old explained, his mother’s uncanny way of celebrating her eldest son’s expanded trophy cabinet was ironically conceived during a rough period that saw Thiem open the year with a 3-4 record.
“I had a pretty bad start to this season last year, some first-round losses. We said after a long trip to Indian Wells from Rio, she said if you win this title here, I’m gonna make a tattoo. I ended up winning that one, so this tradition started.”
Each tattoo pays tribute to the country Thiem won the title in. Among the highlights include an eagle feather for Indian Wells and panda for Beijing. A title at Melbourne Park would be his first Down Under.
With a number of symbols and animals to select from, what ink would his mother add this time around?
“For sure, a kangaroo,” Thiem said to cap the light-hearted moment.
Thiem will look to extend his best showing when he faces world No. 1 Rafael Nadal or Nick Kyrgios for a place in the last four.