Dominic Thiem won the second match of 2023, against fellow Austrian Sebastian Ofner in round one of the Millennium Estoril Open 2023. Thiem ATP rank 111 was a set (3-6) down when he regained his composure and started belting out his famous backhand winners. He went on to win comfortably in the following 2 sets(6-3, 6-4).
Victory evaded Thiem in 2023, as he won only 1 of the 8 matches he played before the Estoril Open. The one-time U.S. Open Grand Slam champion suffered most defeats on the Hard courts, losing in the first-round match of 3 Major tournaments (Adelaide Open, Indian Wells, Miami Open) and the Australian Open. Though he has been playing to his strengths, he has not been achieving good results as he has not been able to convert the crucial points.
In the post-match interview, a confident and content-looking Thiem said “I’m actually playing much better than in the second half of 2022 when I was winning more games”
During the match with Ofner (ATP rank 122), he lost the first set despite having 10 breakpoints. He was able to win only 1 of the 10 in the first set. So even with him playing quite well, the scoreboard told a different story. Second set onward, Thiem broke Ofner’s service games multiple times and only got broken back once. His shots had the right power and precision sometimes merely grazing the edge of the lines.
Dominic Thiem suffered a gruesome right-hand wrist injury in June 2021 at the Mallorca Open. The injury forced the World No. 5 at the time to retire for the entire second half of 2021. The road to recovery was especially rocky for the right-handed player who suffered a string of defeats in 2022 and 2023.
Is this a start to a good clay season for Dominic Thiem?
Dominic Thiem’s talent has not evaporated. On the court, we can see hints of the dangerous-looking Thiem from the 2018-2020 era. And the player also agrees. “My ball is heavier, I can hurt my opponents. Just some things don’t click the way I want. I hope this victory (and this week) is the start of something”, a positive-looking Austrian told the press.
The other victory in 2023 for Thiem also came on a clay court when he defeated ATP rank 51 Alex Molcan in Buenos Aires. Dominic Thiem is considered an Elite clay courter, sometimes also referred to as the “Prince of Clay” after Rafael Nadal’s title the King of Clay. The 2-time finalist and 2-time semi-finalist at the French Open player have been highly successful on clay courts. He has overall 17 ATP Singles Titles in his showcase.
Thiem is going to face 20-year-old American Ben Shelton in the second round of the Estoril Open on 6th April 2023.
Sarthak Shitole is a tennis writer at FirstSportz having curated more than 2900 articles in two years. He's been following the sport for more than a decade and over the years, has developed a neutral perspective on the sport while having an unbiased liking to a lot of players for their playing style. His interest extends to other games as well with a fascination to know about the sports' history and statistics as well.
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