Novak Djokovic says Dominic Thiem is a big loss for Belgrade, but he is struggling with exhaustion due to COVID restrictions on the ATP Tour.
Thiem has looked a shadow of his usual self so far this year, struggling at the Australian Open before suffering early defeats in Doha and Dubai.
After that loss in Dubai, he withdrew from Miami to he could 'reset' for clay season, yet he has also pulled out of Monte-Carlo and Belgrade since due to a knee injury.
He has also spoken of his mental struggles, admitting he left the Australian Open feeling 'empty' and saying the coronavirus restrictions have removed all the joy from traveling and playing tennis.
And, according to Djokovic, Thiem is likely to be just one of many players struggling mentally right now.
“It’s definitely a big loss for our tournament to not have Dominic here," Djokovic told the press in Belgrade.
"The tennis world needs him because he’s a Grand Slam champion and one of the top players of the world, a big star.
“He was excited to come back, so it’s unfortunate he’s not here.
“I’ve heard that he is struggling with how he is feeling. He’s a bit exhausted with the restrictions in the bubble life on the tour.
"I understand what he’s been going through because we all go through that.
“Most of the players are experiencing some of the mental issues and motivational issues - playing in front of empty stands, traveling and not being able to go out of their hotel room - just being restricted to the tennis courts and the hotel.”
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