For the first time in its nearly century-and-a-half history, Wimbledon was cancelled for a reason other than war as it became the latest major sporting event in 2020 to fall victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dominic Thiem had an outstanding start to 2016, reaching the semi-final of the French Open and recording a career-high ranking of seven in June.
The 23-year-old, who possesses one of the best backhands on tour, had big wins over Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, David Ferrer and Gael Monflis in 2016.
But after a strong start to 2016, Thiem’s form slowly started to decline, and he has not made it past the fourth round of a grand slam since Roland Garros. In fact, since August last year, twelve of his fourteen losses have come against players ranked below him.
Just last week, he lost to Nikoloz Basilashvili, current world number 87.
So what has gone wrong?
Thiem is an extremely hard worker. He puts himself through rigorous training regimes so that his body will last through long matches. And given his relentless and brutal style of play, he needs to work extremely hard to win matches week in and week out on tour.
And after playing almost every week in the first six months of 2016, Thiem started to see the effects of playing too much tennis.
Now in 2017, he is playing an intense schedule yet again. And although he is playing some terrific tennis, he is being physically outlasted by lesser players, and looked exhausted after four sets against David Goffin at the Australian Open.
There is a good chance that his game style, combined with his extreme workload is having an effect. The way he launches himself at every ball he hits is Rafael Nadal-like, and in this day and age, it is the only way to reach the top. But an overloaded schedule may prevent Thiem from reaching the top of the rankings in the future.
There is a common thought that Thiem’s heavy schedule was made by his coach and personal trainer in order to instil a mental and physical toughness in him that will see him rise to the top of the game.
But the old saying of quality over quantity might be coming into play here, just as it has done with the likes of Nadal and Federer over the course of their careers.
And by all means he is a terrific, hard-working young man, but if his body cannot cope with the rigorous demands being placed on it, at what point will a change be made?