Dominic Thiem’s return to the ATP Tour may not have gone to plan at the Western & Southern Open, but the World No. 3 is well aware of how quickly fortunes can change in tennis.
This year’s Australian Open finalist managed to win just three games in his return match against Filip Krajinovic and will enter the US Open seeking his first victory since the Rio Open presented by Claro in February.
“I know about my strength. I know things can change very quickly. I hope that I do better at the US Open,” said Thiem. “Of course, it’s a little bit weird to stay at the same courts, stay at the same place for another tournament, but I hope that I learned the right things from this match from [the Western & Southern Open] and do it better from Tuesday on.”
Thiem’s loss to Krajinovic was a disappointing result for the Austrian, who had reached the quarter-finals on his past two visits to the ATP Masters 1000 event. But Krajinovic proved in his next two matches that he was playing at an impressive level. The Serbian, who reached the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters final, cruised past Marton Fucsovics and held match point against eventual runner-up Milos Raonic.
“I saw how well Filip was playing after this match,” said Thiem. “He beat Fucsovics 2 and 1. He almost beat Raonic easy in two sets. He’s playing super good at the moment. Me, I didn’t have my best day. That’s how this result comes.”
Unlike most losses on the ATP Tour, Thiem’s early exit from the Western & Southern Open presented him with a new challenge. With the US Open taking place at the same venue — the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center — how did he process the defeat and shift his focus to the US Open?
“[When you lose], normally you hop on the plane and go to a different place. It’s easier to forget,” said Thiem. “Here you’re stuck in the same place for a very long time. So it’s not easy to forget the loss, to get your mind on different things… [I tried to] take a day off, watch TV, some matches.
“Watched some matches also live on the court, which is not that easy under normal circumstances. That’s what I was trying to do. The last days, of course, practising and preparing for the US Open.”
Thiem will hope that his practice and preparation has put him in the perfect position to earn his first win since his run to the Rio de Janeiro quarter-finals in February. His most recent victory came against Jaume Munar, the man he will face in the US Open first round.
Thiem owns a 3-0 ATP Head2Head record against the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist, but each of those three encounters have been contested on clay. In their most recent match, Munar led 7-6(5), 2-0 before Thiem battled back to earn a three-set victory.
“The previous matches, they were all pretty close, especially the one in Rio,” said Thiem. “I was a set and a break down. I almost lost that one… I need to be prepared well, I need to play well, I need to fight 100 per cent. If I’m able to do that, I’m going to have great chances. If not, I’m going to be out. It’s pretty easy.
”[An] advantage is that I know how Jaume is playing, what I have to expect. It’s going to be our first match on a hard court. I’m curious. Of course, I’m also happy that Grand Slam tennis is back.”