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Searching For a Win, Thiem May Play Challengers


By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, May 22, 2022

Glancing around Court Simonne-Mathieu, Dominic Thiem felt his first-round singles crowded by challenges.

Two-time Roland Garros runner-up Thiem was fighting both himself and opponent Hugo Dellien.

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Thiem wouldn't win either battle.

The 87th-ranked Dellien did not face a break point dismissing Thiem 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on Roland Garros' red clay.

It was Thiem's second straight opening-round exit from Paris.

"I have to accept it and even though it was really painful defeat now, week after week," Thiem said. "It's still nothing unexpected happened, everything else, if I would have won many matches or whatever, would have been a big surprise. So it's painful, I'm very disappointed, but it goes on."




It was Thiem's sixth straight loss in his 2022 comeback from a right wrist tear he suffered at the 2021 Mallorca grass-court tournament last June.

Candidly conceding he hasn't felt close to winning any of those six matches, Thiem said he's considering dropping down to the Challenger level to pursue a much-needed victory and the confidence that can come from winning.

"Definitely thinking to go back to Challenger level now for maybe one or two tournaments," Thiem said. "Of course a match win would help a lot, but if I'm honest to myself, I was, in all the matches I played, still pretty far away from a win.

"So I'm not really thinking about it, I just have to improve and then hopefully it goes from itself and then the first match victory is coming and then things are also working much better match-specific."

Aside from injury-induced inactivity, Thiem is not hitting his forehand nearly as hard as he has in the past and his kick serve isn't as heavy either. Thiem double faulted away a break today and was flattening his forehand into the net at times.

Calling Grand Slam nerves "toxic" to his forehand, Thiem said it's tightness rather than any physical issue that's sapped the sting from his signature shot.

"[I have] zero physical issues," Thiem told the media in Paris. "I also have no mental problems with the forehand, I'm not scared or anything, but the problem is that, as I said, in practice was really decent already the forehand but then match situation is something different, Grand Slam especially, I'm obviously a little bit more tight, more nervous and obviously the whole body gets more tight, gets more nervous and right now that's toxic to my forehand because I'm still missing the fine feeling there, I'm missing it a lot.

"Yeah, if that's the case, many, many mistakes are happening and it was again the same today."

It's been more than a year since Thiem's last Tour-level win at the 2021 Rome.

Tennis Express

Eager to end this 10-match slide that dates back to last May, the world No. 194 said he's practicing patience and suggests it could take months before he begins to regain his level.

"The key is just to be patient, continue being patient, work on the stuff which is not working and then it will come back, but it will take time," Thiem said. "I cannot say now I'm disappointed, I'll work hard for a week and then next tournament I'm playing super well.

"I have to be patient and I think it's going to take a few more months until I can really say, okay, now I'm ready to beat those top guys again."

Photo credit: Getty


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