Home GearStrings Dominic Thiem testing new strings

Dominic Thiem testing new strings

by TN

I got a question about Dominic Thiem playing with a new string in Erste Bank Open in Vienna. Instead of his usual Babolat RPM Blast in the crosses, he’s trying RPM Blast Rough Yellow.

Dominic Thiem hasn’t had the kind of season a lot of fans expected him to with “only” one title (in Rio de Janeiro) and a lot of early exits. What is the missing ingredient in his game? Would be interesting to hear your opinions about this. My personal take is that he’s playing a little bit too physical and should try to move into the court more and play more aggressively. It usually takes a lot of effort for him to win a point and if he could find a way to improve his serve and his offensive game to win more free points I think it would benefit him a great deal.

When you’re experiencing a slump, it’s always an interesting idea to try to change things up. In Thiem’s case, Babolat officials confirm that he is testing new string setups. If you want to know more about what racquet Dominic Thiem uses, you can read this post. Thiem has been testing a hybrid of Babolat VS Touch natural gut strings in the mains and Babolat RPM Blast Rough (yellow) in the crosses to get some extra spin compared to his standard cross string, RPM Blast. He strung both strings at 25 kg. See his and other plays string setups on the board below (you need to squint hard or zoom in though!).

This change-up is not radical in any way, but the kind of light tinkering with their racquet setups that most professional tennis players do from time to time. Babolat RPM Blast Rough is a softer and yet more spin-friendly string than the very dead polyester string Babolat RPM Blast which is known to wreak havoc on arms of intermediate players with not fully-developed technique/physique and who perhaps doesn’t change strings as often as the pro players do.

In Vienna he lost to Richard Gasquet in the round of 16: 6-4 5-7 1-6 and it seemed like he ran a little flat in the end despite playing in front of his home crowd.

2017 hasn’t been a great year for Dominic Thiem. Can he finish strongly in Paris and the ATP World Tour Finals? Will he use his new hybrid string setup in his next tournaments? We will soon find out.

Have you tried the new RPM Blast Rough? What do you think of it? And what do you think of Dominic Thiem’s 2018?

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Ethan October 30, 2017 - 18:56

His ad-court serving tendencies are too predictable, i.e. relies too much on out wide kick.

Agree he needs to take measures to shorten points and avoid baseline errors.

Would like to see more down the line backhands.

Tennisnerd October 30, 2017 - 19:00

Hi Ethan,
Thanks for your comment. Agree 100%. His patterns are a little too predictable. Needs to try and mix it up more. He has the talent and the physical ability. I would consider getting a new coach with a different outlook than his current one.

Cheers / J

Steve October 31, 2017 - 21:51

In my opinion with the new breed like Thiem, dimitrov etc is they lack the art of defence when they are severely on the back foot.
Think one of commentators raised it with dimitrov that he has great physical attributes, can cover a lot of court but when defending tries to blast his way out or goes for something too big for the position he’s in. Thiem as well tends to go for big forehands at back of court when he’s out of position.
Watched a point with dimitrov where he was chasing down a ball on his backhand, ball getting behind him and he goes for a topspin shot when he needed to lift the ball and make opponent play another shot. His topspin shot ended up bouncing on his side of the net before even making the net. Poor shot selection.


Tennisnerd November 2, 2017 - 15:55

Interesting comments, Steve! Always nice to discuss about player technique and pros and cons about their style and games. /J

johnson November 4, 2017 - 12:17

In my observation Thiem plays a very physical game. Among other consequences, this might have implications for the length of his career later on. If I were his coach I would challenge him to try to win some of his less contentious matchups with as little physical effort as possible. Also, he seems to need scoreboard pressure to do his best. I see him throwing away points early in a match, and then through spectacular effort making it up later, squeaking out a win in the end. This makes for a more exciting show for the spectators, no doubt one of the reasons that he is so popular. Staying with the program early on could result in more 2 setters instead of 3 setters (or 3 instead of 4 or 5), saving physical and mental energy which would be useful in the final rounds of bigger tournaments.

One of the lighter moments for him was after he beat Federer at Stuttgart last year, he was interviewed by his country[wo]man Barbara Schett. She said [paraphrasing from memory] that from now on he can forget the red stuff, he would be referred to as a grass court specialist! That’s what you get when you beat Federer on grass! In his humility he would have none of it.

As for RPM Blast Rough yellow, I had a chance to hit with it briefly because it came in a test racquet that I tried. I liked neither the string nor the racquet, though admittedly it is sometimes hard to tell what is due to what when both instruments are previously unknown. Apart from the spin, it gave little control and not much feel. In general I do not understand why players use early generation shaped polys for spin, including RPM Blast and various offerings from Luxilon. I experience more spin from later generation spin strings that are not only shaped, but have sharp edges that really cut into the ball and grip it better, such as Hyper-G, Poly Tour Spin, Ultra Cable, Solstice Power or Firewire.

Tennisnerd November 4, 2017 - 15:32

Thanks for your comment, Johnson. I agree about the poly’s, but most players stick with what they’re used to in the end even if they do test new gear, especially during the off-season to increase their chances of success.

I’m not a huge fan of RPM Blast strings myself any more. All the strings you mention are favourable to me, but it’s a personal opinion of course.

Cheers / Jonas

Tennisnerd November 4, 2017 - 15:33

I also agree about your comments on Thiem and his game. Too physical, needs to work on strategy and shortening points.

vingigolo November 12, 2017 - 19:15

Thiem changed string once again at the London Masters and is now playing with a red Babolat poly. It could also just be the red version of the rpm rough.

Another interesting change is, that he is now playing without lead at 3 and 9 so he seems to also changed his weight setup. maybe he just switched to the new model but with weight under the bumper.

Jean Pierre October 10, 2018 - 18:14

I would never understand why Thiem play with a ” non spin ” racquet (18×20) and a “non spin ” strings set up (gut in the mains).
I don t understand. With a 16×19 and poly in the mains,he would finish points more quickly without loosing too much effort for to win a point ! Incredible !

Tennisnerd October 11, 2018 - 11:05

Good point, but because he has such big swings he generates a lot of spin himself and probably values that extra bit of control instead of the “free spin” of the 16×19 string pattern.


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