Thiem clarifies player relief fund comments: ‘It came across as a bit harsh’

andrewhendrie in News 30 Apr 2020
Thiem funding lower-ranked
Dominic Thiem (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)

World No. 3 Dominic Thiem has clarified his comments regarding funding lower-ranked players out of his own pocket – but insists not everyone down the tennis ladder deserves his generosity.

Thiem copped some backlash for his remarks earlier this week, with the Australian Open and Roland Garros runner-up branding some lower-ranked players as ‘unprofessional’ and undeserving of his financial assistance.

The Austrian was speaking about a proposed relief package that is being led by World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, which would see top five players donate $US30,000 each to struggling competitors on the ITF Futures circuit.

“None of the lower-ranked players have to fight for their lives,” Thiem told Austria’s Krone Sport.

“I’ve seen players on the ITF-Tour who don’t commit to the sport 100 per cent. Many of them are quite unprofessional. I don’t see, why I should give them money.”

Speaking in another interview with local Austrian media, Thiem admitted that his initial comments seemed ‘harsh’, but also doubled down on his original sentiments.

“It came across as a bit harsh,” Thiem said.” There are a few things that bother me. There are 2,000 players in the rankings, the ones further down are definitely there.

“There are some players I would not like to support. So I’d prefer the player got to choose and then it would benefit the ones who really need it.”

Thiem added that he would rather donate his money to other causes and people who are suffering more because of COVID-19.

“There are going to be others who need it more than probably every single athlete,” he said.

Thiem’s clarification comes as fellow star Nick Kyrgios accused the Austrian of failing to understand the big picture when it comes to helping lower-ranked players.

“He (Thiem) still doesn’t understand the point,” Kyrgios wrote on Instagram.

“We at the top get paid far too much and there is not enough to go around, it’s about helping where we can, professional or unprofessional, put yourself in their shoes.”