Dominic Thiem has spoken exclusively to Eurosport about rival Novak Djokovic chasing what would be a 'unique' calendar Grand Slam.
World number one Djokovic, who triumphed at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon earlier in the year, is aiming to complete the incredible achievement at Flushing Meadows with just two more matches to win for glory.
Thiem, the reigning champion in New York, has given his thoughts about the Serb's tilt at history while away from the action recovering due to treatment on a persistent wrist injury.
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“I can imagine there is such huge pressure, something none of us can even imagine," Thiem, speaking in the Eurosport Cube, said of Djokovic targeting the feat.
"Winning one Grand Slam was such a huge effort and big pressure but the calendar Slam is unique and I wasn’t born the last time it happened in men’s tennis. That shows what an achievement that is.
"He [Djokovic] is still the favourite for this tournament and the only one with a Slam title left in the draw. He has this target in mind and will do everything he can to reach it.
"I would like to be in his shoes and experience that, but I would prefer to be in my shoes to stop him doing that. Either we see a great young player winning their first Slam or we see absolute history.
Right now, it’s probable we will witness history that we will never see again in our lives. It’s the chance of a century and we should be grateful for that.
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On another contender for the title this year, Daniil Medvedev, Thiem said: "He never drops his level no matter how long a match goes. He’s very difficult to break as he has a great first and second serve.
"He puts a lot of shots in from the baseline, which is his speciality, and this combination is so tough. Hard courts are his best and he is moving extraordinarily well, especially on a hard court.”
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Thiem is still recovering from his wrist injury and regaining his fitness, but says he is targeting the beginning of next year for his eagerly-anticipated comeback to the sport.
"I hope I am back in the first tournament of 2022, that’s the goal," he said. "The healing of the wrist has gone well. Everything went without complication so I can start with the racket end of October, which would be ideal. But I still have my cast on for another two-and-a-half weeks. I hope I can take it off end of September then slowly build up my wrist.
“Usually when I’m out early in a tournament or when I’m injured for a little bit I don’t like to watch the tournaments going on, but now I have a clear plan to be back early in 2022.
"I was watching a lot of tennis, especially from the US Open from the early matches very late at night. Of course, just to enjoy it as a fan for the first time is actually just relaxing and watching great tennis. But obviously for myself next year, to see all the new young players and already thinking about the tactics against them a little bit. To see how different players react in different situations.
“I don’t think [having a break] is a bad thing. Of course, I don’t want to be injured, but I’ve played so much over the years and practised so much, which is probably not good for my body.
"Now is the time to rest mentally and for my body, and I hope that this is only half-time in my career. Right now I am in the half-time break and I have many great years to come. Sure, I am missing some sensations from tennis - the winning feeling, the fans - but there are also some things that I don’t miss."
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