Massu: 'You Always Want More, It’s Very Difficult To Be Satisfied'
The Chilean coach analyses Thiem’s present and future
Not even one day had passed since Dominic Thiem’s victory in the US Open final, and his mind and aspirations were already focused on Roland Garros. His coach, Nicolas Massu, can attest to that; “You always have to try and achieve more.”
And that intention has borne fruit in Paris. The Austrian has made it to his fifth successive quarter-final at the clay-court major, and on Tuesday the World No. 3 will be bidding for more when he takes on his good friend Diego Schwartzman. In the midst of their preparations for the tie, the Chilean opened up to ATPTour.com.
Another tournament, another bubble... has the isolation during competition now become normality?
At the end of the day, it’s a question of adapting. Here in Paris, just like in New York, we try to spend the time as well as possible. In my case, I don’t think in terms of how many days are left or how many I’ve been there for. I simply concentrate on my work. The excitement of being at a Grand Slam and wanting to do big things is enough. You come here to work, to win, to make history.
Are you happy with Thiem’s game after such a short period of preparation for Roland Garros?
We knew that his tennis was ready. We just had to get him physically and mentally recovered in order to continue competing energetically. Dominic came here without playing any tournaments on clay. Normally, you come to this tournament having played on the surface since Monte Carlo, with eight weeks of preparation. This time Dominic trained for just six or seven days, three or four of them in Vienna and the rest here. So it was important to start well in the early rounds, despite having a very tough draw. But I think he’s done a very good job.
And, apart from the change in surface, you had to adapt to the conditions at this very atypical French Open...
This is a different year, with different weather and balls. After the US Open, we started training in Vienna with these balls, but it was hot, and when he got here everything was different. But in the end, Dominic adapts very quickly. Nowadays, he can play in any condition and with any ball. What we did after the US Open was to listen to his body, understand what happened there. If we managed that well, we knew that he could play well.
You have both said that the title in New York was a weight off his shoulders and he would play better without so much pressure. Have you seen that in Paris?
Yes. It gave him significant confidence. It’s always good to win your first Grand Slam, to make history. He’d had that dream since he was little, and he did it. It’s something that gives you great reinforcement. But you always want more, it’s very difficult to be satisfied or to think about what you’ve already done. It happened to me as a player too. The US Open title gives Dominic peace of mind, great joy. But the tennis has to continue. And that’s why he’s here fighting, battling because he wants to keep doing big things.
You say it happened to you as a player. Is it happening to you now as a coach?
The thing is that there’s not much time to be able to sit down and analyse the triumphs because you have to prepare for another tournament. In this case Roland Garros, which is so important to Dominic. After New York, I had a few free days in Milan, but then I was in Vienna training with Dominic, who had started to prepare for the tournament two days before with his father.
Was there no time to celebrate?
You enjoy it as much as you can, and obviously, as a coach, winning a Grand Slam is incredible, an amazing feeling. But I think that while you’re doing this, you always want more, as a player and as a coach. And if you’ve won a Grand Slam, you want to continue, you want to keep working. If Dominic has already done it, it’s because he can do it again.
Who are the other favourites?
I’m always confident he will win, regardless of who’s on the other side of the net. That should be the belief, although that doesn’t mean you’re going to win. You have to demonstrate that conviction. As for the other favourites... I would have to name the same players that have reached these rounds in the past. We already know who they are [Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic]. Obviously Dom has a chance at every tournament he plays in because he’s number three in the world, but the ranking doesn’t make you win matches. If you don’t fight, you lose.