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“This tournament doesn’t change anything” – Dominic Thiem excited for strong season despite loss to Rublev in Australia

Dominic Thiem is looking at the positives after his straight set loss at the hands of Andrey Rublev in Melbourne.

Dominic Thiem 2023 Australian Open Dominic Thiem 2023 Australian Open || AI / Reuters / Panoramic
Australian Open •First round • completed
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A rough draw – and some tough luck – created a daunting challenge for Dominic Thiem on Tuesday in Melbourne. It proved to be one that he was ultimately unable to overcome as he fell to fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in first-round action, but Thiem was not disheartened after the loss.

The former world No 3 told reporters that he plans to quickly put the loss behind him and get back to chasing his main goal: making a return to the elite level of the sport sometime this season.

“The direction doesn’t really change after that defeat,” Thiem told reporters. “I [will try] to go forward and try to make it better in next tournaments.”

An injury made matters worse

Thiem suffered what appeared to be an abdominal strain during the second set of Tuesday’s match, and he said that the minor injury made the daunting task of overcoming Rublev next to impossible.

“I don’t think that even [at] 100 percent, I’m not able to beat Rublev yet, while he is top-5 seed here, even in a really fit situation” he said. “I reckon it would be very, very tough to beat him and with the issue like the abs, it’s going to be almost impossible.

“This thing came up with abdominals or ribs, and after that serving was tough. Obviously against an opponent like Andrey it’s going to be really difficult to end the match successful.”

Laurent Lairys / Panoramic

“The direction doesn’t really change after that defeat.”

— Dominic Thiem

The ultimate goal – confidence against the elite

Asked if he had a timeline as to when he could see himself ready to compete with the top talents in the sport and not consider himself a huge underdog, the world No 98 said that he hopes that it happens at some point this year.

“That’s the ultimate goal, and I hope that I can do it now, during this season, if I have a draw like that, like here in Australia against a top-10 player, top-5 seed, to go out on court and to believe that I can win it.”

What’s next – the South American swing

Thiem says his injury shouldn’t slow him down much, and he plans to continue his climb in South America on the clay in February.

“As I said, this tournament doesn’t change anything because I just had a really tough opponent,” Thiem said. “I hope that I can improve the results at the South American clay.”

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