Feature

Muster: 'I Want To Make Thiem Better Than I Ever Was'

By Tom Allen
Updated , First
Published

Feature

Muster: 'I Want To Make Thiem Better Than I Ever Was'

By Tom Allen
Updated , First
Published

Dominic Thiem has been hard at work this week at the ATP Cup under the tutelage of Austrian captain Thomas Muster, but it’s not the last time you’ll see the pair together this year.

Thiem announced on Wednesday evening that former World No. 1 Muster will join his coaching team for 20 weeks alongside Nicolas Massu in 2020.

“I think that there are many things that I can still improve. And then of course Thomas is best player of Austria all-time by far, [and he] is the only one who achieved the goals I'm still having,” Thiem said. “I think nothing better can happen to me than to have a guy from my own country to help me hopefully achieve these goals.”

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Talks of a potential partnership began last October. They trained together before this event, and their work together in Sydney during the ATP Cup sealed the deal on forming this partnership.

“That was just sort of the last approval here. So we all came together and made this decision basically this week,” Muster said. “We all had to do our homework and studies based on our work relationship that we started and we're just about to start.

“We're happy about that. I think we have a rocky road ahead of us to achieve those goals, but they are manageable and possible. We'll try our best to be as good as possible, actually. We are very happy and look forward to that.”

Muster did not make this commitment lightly, and he has had to make adjustments within his family to accommodate the travel that working with Thiem will require.

“I want to be committed. I think he's got the skills to be, he's one of the top players, but you can take it further. He has the chances to win Grand Slams. We know that,” Muster said. “He has the ability to do that, and I wouldn't have done that for anybody else.

“But when this came up, when we started talking about this opportunity, I really had to pinch myself and go, ‘Well, do I want to do this?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I want to.’ I want to commit myself to this guy, and I want to make him better than I ever was.”

The 44-time tour-level titlist says that he has been asked by other players to join their coaching team, and he has denied those requests. But Muster believes that along with Massu, he can help Thiem reach his goals.

“If I can achieve with him to be No. 1 and to win a Grand Slam, I think he's the only one I ever would have done it for, because to have an Austrian who has that opportunity, you have to kind of commit yourself. It's almost a must,” Muster said. “It is an honour that a player like Dominic is looking back at me and saying, ‘Well, there could be some help for me.’ And I'm happy to put all my knowledge and my experience that I had [from] all those many, many years playing tournaments if I can add some value to his game.”

Thiem won just one of his three matches at the ATP Cup. But after a 2019 during which he won five titles — including an ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Indian Wells — and reached the championship match of the Nitto ATP Finals, the Austrian is excited to start a new chapter in his career, with a former World No. 1 joining his team.

“It's very special, of course. I mean, I also worked hard for it to get these compliments,” Thiem said. “But I still haven't achieved the goals I set for myself, and I really want to do everything to achieve them, to achieve at the highest goal you can get to in tennis… He's the only Austrian who achieved that so far, so I think there is nobody who can help me more than him.”