Dominic Thiem is finding it tougher to get pumped up with no fans in the stands at the ATP Finals, especially with other tight restrictions in place at the event.
Thiem defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in round-robin play at the tournament on Sunday, but this repeat of the 2019 final was much quieter. The O2 Arena is known for the full, involved crowds that show up for the eight-player season showstopper. But there are now no fans present due to the coronavirus pandemic, which also led to several other events being cancelled during the season.
"Physically I think it’s the most easiest year since a long time. Today was my 30th match on tour, which is not a big number, but mentally it is tough, because, I mean, you get so much energy from the fans," he told press in London. "If you go in the stadium, if you have a huge win like today and you get the atmosphere from 17,000 people, it brings so much positive energy.
"You have all the time to push yourself, give yourself energy. Yeah, that’s exhausting."
Not only do players see few people on the court, but also off the court—they have to stay inside their hotel when not on site, and can have only three team members with them at the event. That's also mentally draining, noted Thiem.
"If you have a long day and then you go in a great city like London or like New York, the city gives you nice energy, nice restaurants," he said.
The world No. 3 praised the safety protocols at the event.
''Like I think the whole first or second floor is for us players, and also the floors where the rooms are only for us players," he said. ''So I think that makes it a very safe environment."
But they are also adding to the mental demands of competing in these conditions.
"But it’s pretty rough because during the whole day we get maybe two, three minutes of fresh air and no sun at all. So that’s it," he said.
At the end of the day, Thiem, who next plays Rafael Nadal, is first and foremost happy to be playing.
"I mean, still it’s great, as I said, that the event is going on," Thiem said. "We are privileged to be able to do our job, to play those tournaments. "