Tennis-Thiem withdraws from Tokyo Olympics with eye on defending U.S. Open crown


FILE PHOTO: Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 30, 2021 Austria's Dominic Thiem walks off the court after losing his first round match against Spain's Pablo Andujar REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

(Reuters) - Austria's Dominic Thiem withdrew from the Olympics on Thursday, saying he did not feel ready to give his best in Tokyo but was looking forward to competing at Wimbledon this month and defending his U.S. Open title later this year.

Thiem, ranked fifth in the world, has endured a torrid season with a 9-8 win-loss record in 2021. A French Open finalist in 2018 and 2019, Thiem was knocked out in the first round at Roland Garros this year.

The 27-year-old said he discussed his situation with his team and described withdrawing from the Olympics as a "very difficult decision".

"For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher. However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don't feel ready to play my best in Tokyo," Thiem said on Twitter.

"These last two weeks I have been training hard and I'm starting to improve my conditioning and concentration little by little.

"My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my U.S. Open title."

Thiem won his maiden Grand Slam title in New York last year to end the stranglehold of the 'Big Three' of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

Thiem is the second top-five ranked player to withdraw from the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics on Thursday after Nadal also pulled out earlier in the day. Nadal, 35, is also skipping Wimbledon as the Spaniard bids to prolong his career.

"I am young and I hope to be able to play for Austria at the Olympics in Paris 2024," Thiem added.

World number one Novak Djokovic said on the eve of the French Open that he might consider skipping the Tokyo Olympics if the two-week sporting festival takes place without spectators.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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