VIENNA/WASHINGTON, October 25, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)
Austria’s favorite son, Dominic Thiem, headlines the second day of the Erste Bank Open on Tuesday. The 113th-ranked native from Wiener Neustadt will face No. 30 Tommy Paul of the United States not before 5:30 p.m. inside Wiener Stadthalle.
During a news conference on Monday, the former World No. 3 Thiem admitted to tournament media that he’s not the favorite to win this year’s ATP 500 title in the Austrian capital city.
No place like home 💙 https://t.co/gHyDGJKJPp
— Erste Bank Open (@ErsteBankOpen) October 24, 2022
(Thiem’s quotes are translated from German into English.)
“Gijón and Antwerp were 250 tournaments – with good players, no doubt – but Vienna is a different beast,” Thiem admitted. “If you take a closer look, you can see that I was about to be eliminated by [Marcos] Giron in Gijón and it was also a close shave against [Francisco] Cerundolo in Antwerp. There were a lot of close matches. In Vienna, there are almost only Top-40 players. I’m not that far to see myself as a favorite.”
Thiem, who has put together back-to-back semifinal finishes in Gijón and Antwerp – and was a finalist in an ATP Challenger indoor event in Rennes, France last month – was asked how important it was to him to be able to win close matches. He’s compiled a 12-5 win-loss record since Rennes.
“It’s always a good sign,” he said. “Often, you also need luck, which I had against Hurkacz.” Thiem knocked the No. 1 seed and Polish star out of the Antwerp draw in the quarterfinal round. “The next day [against Korda], not so much. On this level, you need a bit of luck, but it’s always positive when I win more than I lose.”
Match of the year contender ❓🤯
Comeback kid 🇦🇹 Thiem continues after defeating nr.1 seed 🇵🇱 Hurkacz 3-6 7-6(9) 7-6(4) in an AMAZING atmosphere in ANTWERP 😳🦁
— European Open (@EuroTennisOpen) October 21, 2022
As Thiem tries to get his consistency back in his game, which he feels he can do by playing as many matches as possible – this is his third straight tour-level tournament in three weeks – he has asked for a wild card to play at the Rolex Paris Masters in Bercy next week. His goal is to break back into the Top 100 by the end of the season.
“Depending on that I will see how much I will still play,” Thiem said. “It also depends on how I do in Vienna. If I manage to crack the Top 100 here, I will probably finish the season. If not, I will most likely have to play one or two Challengers later.”
Thiem’s path to a Vienna title would require him to win five matches. His opponents after Paul could include: World No. 4 and top seed Daniil Medvedev in the second round, No. 6 seed Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals, No. 3 seed Andrey Rublev in the semifinals and No. 2 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final – quite a tall order for any player.
View this post on Instagram
In all competitions, Thiem has overcome an 0-7 start to win 22 of 40 matches this year. It has been a season that has had its share of highs and lows.
“The French Open was the absolute low and I can understand all the critics,” Thiem explained. “The way I played there was cruel.” He suffered a very disappointing 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 loss to No. 87 Hugo Delien of Bolivia. “There, I really doubted myself because I was practicing so hard in the weeks before. But I already saw during training that I wasn’t able to win sets against good players.
“The long practice sessions after Paris were extremely important. There it all started to click and I felt better, a bit like in the past. The first win on the tour in ATP (against Emil Ruusuvuori in the first round at Bastad, Sweden on clay) was also important, then reaching the quarterfinals. That’s when I knew that I was again able to win against the good players. From then, everything started to go in to the right direction.”
Great fight today with Sebastian Ofner! 💪🏼
Happy to be in the quarter-finals in Kitzbühel! 🇦🇹
📸: Alexander Scheuber | Generali Open Kitzbühel pic.twitter.com/35pgn2lTvT
— Dominic Thiem (@domithiem) July 27, 2022
After winning the Vienna title in 2019, Thiem went on the win his first major the next year at the US Open. He was asked to describe how the pressure and expectation from then compares to now. “Since 2016, I always came here as a Top 10 player and always had the expectation of getting really far,” he said. “Luckily, I managed to win the tournament in 2019, but the situation is completely different now.
“Although the last few weeks have been very positive, winning the first match would be a really big achievement. A few weeks ago, matches and wins against Top 30 players were almost a sensation and not that much has changed. My goal now is to win my first match, which would be huge for me personally. So, a lot has changed there. A match win and then a loss would have been a major disappointment in recent years.”
Now, the bottom line for the 29-year-old Austrian is simple: “The last two weeks have given me a huge boost for Vienna.”
View this post on Instagram