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“The main goal is to regain my best level by the end of the season” – Thiem
The former world No 3 won his first ATP level match in 14 months last week at Bastad and is now looking to recapture the form that helped him become a Grand Slam champio
Dominic Thiem broke through a major barrier last week at the ATP Bastad Open. The former world No 3, off the courts for nine months and winless for the first four months of his comeback, won his first ATP level match in 14 months and then went to beat a top 20 player in Roberta Bautista Agut to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament.
The Austrian, who had pulled out of Wimbledon saying he needed to get fitter and train further before being able to compete with his peers, is giving himself more time to get back to the form that took him to the US Open title and three other Grand Slam finals.
In an interview with the ATP Tour before his first round match at the Swiss Open Gstaad on Tuesday, the 28-year-old said his goal is to recapture his best form by the end of the season.
“The main goal is to regain my best level by the end of the season, Thiem said. “To play the way I was before when I step on court. To think I am able to win against any opponent. That is not going to happen now or probably by the US Open, but by the end of the year, that is the goal.”
I feel now a bit like I did at the beginning of my career, where every win was something very special – Thiem
On Tuesday, Thiem won his first round match in Gstaad, a tournament he won in 2015, saving a match point in the deciding set tiebreak to beat seventh seed Hugo Gaston 1-6, 6-1, 7-6.
The win along with his wins in Bastad, also an ATP 250 event, were very special to the Austrian, who said they felt similar to the wins when he first came on the tour.
“I feel now a bit like I did at the beginning of my career, where every win was something very special. I reached the quarter-finals in Bastad at an ATP 250 and it feels huge to me. It was similar at the start of my career. When you are used to going deep, a match win is not as special anymore. But that is not the way it should be. The level is so high, all the players are playing so well, so every match win should be special and that is how I am feeling again now,” the Austrian said.
Recalling the first few months of his comeback in which he lost his first seven matches before winning a round at the ATP Challenger in Salzburg earlier this month, Thiem said it was difficult to remain positive in the face of so many consecutive defeats.
“In the spring it was not easy to stay positive as I lost one match after another. Also, the way I played, I felt it was not enough for the level of those guys. I went into those matches with the knowledge that I am not even able to win, so that was very difficult. Mentally it was not easy. After Roland-Garros, I sat down with my team and said I needed another training block to get back to the basics and get somewhere close to my old level. Now it is getting nicer again.”