For Dominic Thiem, one of his most important Grand Slam seasons begins on Monday (2nd match after 9am / ServusTV): The 30-year-old from Lower Austria has often played in the second round of the four tennis majors until the Australian Open 2021. (Round of 16) week, played in four finals and won the US Open title in 2020.
But since the French Open 2021, he has survived only one round of seven majors, the US Open (2023). We can do it again against Felix Auger-Aliassime. On the one hand, Thiem felt well prepared, but on the other, the 23-year-old Canadian wasn't optimistic at the start of the season.
In his only individual appearance in Auckland, the world number 27 was defeated. After a bye to German Daniel Altmaier with 6:7.5:7. If Thiem wants to get close to the old days, he'll have to do it this year. As the current number 94, Thiem still has plenty of potential, but the former world number three needs a boost in performance.
Thiem, who has been preparing for some time in Melbourne after his Brisbane exit against Rafael Nadal, feels “good”. “I had a good preparation, trained well, no physical problems. Then I had a good first match in Brisbane as well. Qualifying, which was good, then the match against Rafa, which was very interesting.
Ten years after his major debut in Melbourne (2nd round) and four years after narrowly missing out on his first Grand Slam title, Thiem is playing at the “Happy Slam” for the tenth time. In 2020 he already led 2-1 sets against Novak Djokovic in the final but had to bow out in five. A season has already begun for the popular tingle theme before the highlight. “Two days before the start of the competition I can already feel the tension, I'm ready.”
Thiem in no way underestimates Auger-Aliassim. “He's positioned himself at the absolute top of the world, especially in 2022, he played incredibly at the end of the year and qualified for Turin. He had a really tough season last year and finally saved it with the title in Basel.
But the focus is entirely on itself. “I'm making sure I'm fully back and I've done everything to make sure that's it.”
Either way, Kitzbühel tournament director Alexander Antonich has high hopes for the theme. “If against someone, often against a Canadian. I believe it will be a real battle,” Carinthian said of the draw. “From what I've heard, Tommy is in great shape physically,” Antonich explained.
If Thiem prevails and goes 2-0 head-to-head with the Canadian, he will once again face a French-speaking opponent. Alexandre Muller and qualifier Hugo Grenier are both from France, and both have a hurdle to overcome. In the third round, however, Thiem could meet third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev.
But Thiem hasn't thought about that yet. However, in addition to the many regular highlights of the season, he clearly has his sights set on the Olympics in Paris. “The Olympics this year is definitely the big goal. Because I've never been there before and they're in Paris, I want to be there and do well there.
In addition to majors and March tournaments in the US, Thiem also mentioned the clay court season. “It's always very important to me. Of course also the tournaments in Austria.” Kitzbühel already had a confirmation.
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