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Thiem Talks Kiki and Nico Influence

Dominic Thiem credits the positive influence of his girlfriend, Kristina Mladenovic, and coach, Nicolas Massu, contributing to his spring success.

Thiem hit and trained with Mladenovic in Indian Wells before his inspired run to his first Masters 1000 title when he knocked off five-time champion Roger Federer in the final.

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The 2018 Roland Garros runner-up says Mladenovic's understanding of life on the pro circuit keeps their relationship free of drama.

"(It) is very nice because it's easier that she understands everything of this job," Thiem told the media in Rome. "It's not a drama when we leave each other because she knows that we both have to travel a lot. That she knows this job perfectly makes everything much easier. We can help each other a lot."

Massu, who swept gold medals in singles and doubles at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, succeeded Gunter Bresnik as Thiem's coach. Bresnik had coached the 25-year-old Austrian since age eight.

Thiem said Massu has helped add some variety, versatility and unpredictability to his game—qualities he showed defeating Rafael Nadal in the Barcelona semifinals before deconstructing Daniil Medvedev in the final.

"I think that my game got more unpredictable. That's one big part," Thiem said of Massu's impact. "I mean, I have amazing groundstrokes. I've learned them. It was amazing with Gunter, but last few years sometimes I had the problems that I made amazing shots, but the game was too unpredictable somehow.

"At certain times I had the feeling opponents know where I'm going to play. I was hitting amazing shots which should be winners, but they haven't been. I am adding some options to my game now, like some dropshots, some other shots which I wouldn't hit before."

Thiem has long been one of the game's biggest hitters, but believes working with Massu he's regained his ability to read the game and play rallies with more nuance.

"When I was really young, I had an amazing talent to read the game and everything," Thiem said. "That got a little bit lost. Now I have a really nice feeling that's somehow coming back."

Photo credit: Barcelona Open BancSabadell – Trofeo Conde de Godo