The Austrian has been out injured with a wrist injury since June 2021, which he sustained at the Mallorca Open. The then world number 5 was forced to retire against Adrian Mannarino, after being 5-2 up on the grass courts of Mallorca. His comeback was set to be at the Cordoba Open 250, but a further injury to his right finger’s ligament has seen the former world number 3’s return delayed.
He announced that he is recovering well and is set to return for the clay court season at what will probably be the Monte Carlo Masters, starting April 10th. "The wrist is perfectly fine, the hand is getting better and better.” From all accounts, the 2020 US Open Champion sounds unpanicked by his latest injury, and the withdrawal from the two upcoming tournaments seems precautionary.
He also admitted that clay was his most comfortable surface and so perhaps he is more at ease with retuning from his long-spell injury on these courts, rather than the Laykold and Plexipave hard courts of Miami and Indian Wells. “[Clay-courts are] still the surface I feel the most comfortable [on], so it's a perfect time to start there.”
Thiem’s record in America speaks for itself, as he was crowned champion of the US Open in 2020 and Indian Wells the year prior. The Austrian also had to cancel on defending his Grand Slam title at New York in 2021, due to underestimating the severity of his wrist injury. The art of cancelling on the Americans is something Thiem has had to master.
The dubbed ‘sunshine double’ is set to be without the injured Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori, along with world female number 1 Ashleigh Barty. Novak Djokovic will also miss out on the tournament pair, due to travel restrictions in the US for unvaccinated people. The world number 2 still remains to be the only player inside the top 100 to be unvaccinated.
Thiem has played 12 matches at Monte Carlo, winning only six. The Austrian has failed to make it past the quarter final stage in years prior and 2019 saw him wiped out against the Serbian Dušan Lajović in the 3rd round, losing three and three.
A more successful run in the tournament on the back of a long-term injury does not seem likely, but Thiem will be hoping to glide back onto the clay courts and shed any rustiness that may linger.