Getting needled: Austrian ace Thiem reveals he is vaccinated after PUBLIC SHAMING by health minister on TV
Grand Slam winner Dominic Thiem has confirmed his return to the court by the end of the year and participation at the Australian Open in January after revealing to fans he has received the Covid vaccine.
Austrian star Thiem, 28, has been out of action since August with a wrist injury but told fans on social media that he was targeting a comeback at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi next month.
“My team and I strongly believe that I’ll be ready to make my comeback to competition later this year,” wrote the 2020 US Open champion.
“I’ll be returning to competition in December and will be playing the MWTC 2021 in Abu Dhabi – with the objective to return to the tour for the 2022 Australian Open.”
Uncertainty is rife regarding next season’s opening Grand Slam in Melbourne as Australian officials bicker over the admission of unvaccinated players.
An email circulated among women’s stars has suggested unjabbed players will be allowed as long as they undergo a strict two-week quarantine – something backed up by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
However, Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews has vowed not to let stars in unless they are fully vaccinated.
The participation of the world’s top two men’s players – reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and current US Open king Daniil Medvedev – appears in doubt after neither of the pair would confirm their vaccine status.Also on rt.com No vax talk from Novak: Djokovic shuts down Covid vaccine questions as uncertainty lingers over Australian Open status
Thiem had previously suggested he was waiting for a vaccine from American pharmaceutical company Novavax before taking the step.
Last week, Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Muckstein had used an appearance on TV to tell Thiem that he should get vaccinated, warning that “there is also long-Covid with younger people and athletes and we also have almost 30-year-olds in intensive care.”
It was also reported that the star had recently been prevented from attending his home event, the Vienna Open, because he has not been vaccinated.
But Thiem responded in his post on Tuesday, writing: “Needless to say that the vaccine is needed to play both events [in Abu Dhabi and Melbourne], and in my case I have already been vaccinated.
“I saw recently some news about this and I had made it very clear that I would get vaccinated. Hopefully the next time things won’t be taken this far as I saw last week…”
Thiem had been among those to face criticism after he appeared at Djokovic’s ill-fated Adria Tour last year, which went ahead despite Covid concerns.
An outbreak among players led to the event being scrapped, with Thiem apologizing to fans.
The Austrian did defend Djokovic, however, later saying: “It [the criticism] was unfair to him because he didn't break any law and he didn't force us.
“He didn't force any player to come there. He didn't force any player to interact with the fans.
“It was our own decision. The whole event was for a very good cause as well.”Also on rt.com 'He didn't force us': Tennis ace Thiem DEFENDS Djokovic but admits coronavirus-hit stars 'kind of FORGOT' distancing at tournament
Thiem finished runner-up to Djokovic in an epic Australian Open final in 2020, but last year exited in the fourth round to Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
Thiem is currently ranked number 12 in the ATP ratings. Given his lack of playing time in recent months, the Austrian will likely be seen as an outside bet once Melbourne rolls around in January.