Austria’s Dominic Thiem reacts as he leaves after losing against Spain’s Pablo Andujar during their men’s singles first round tennis match on Day 1 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 30, 2021. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

Former US Open champion Dominic Thiem further delayed his return to action from a niggling wrist injury on Monday, saying he was pulling out of ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami to focus on the claycourt season.

Thiem, who has an excellent record on clay, has not played since suffering the injury at the 2021 Mallorca Open and the 28-year-old, who has slipped to 50th in the world rankings, was unable to defend his U.S. Open crown last year.

The Austrian had withdrawn from tournaments in Argentina, Brazil and Chile this year but had said he was hopeful of a return at Indian Wells, generally considered the most prestigious tournament outside the four grand slam events and where Thiem won the title in 2019.

Dominic Thiem grand slam tennis

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Austria’s Dominic Thiem during his fourth round match against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

“I had really good practice weeks. The wrist is perfectly fine, the hand is getting better and better but still I decided to pull out of Indian Wells and Miami and to start on the clay court,” Thiem said in a video posted on Instagram.

“It’s still the surface where I feel most comfortable so I think it’s the perfect time to start there.”

The claycourt season starts in April.

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