Dominic Thiem was unable to celebrate the first victory he had hoped for in the fifth attempt since his comeback. The 28-year-old from Lower Austria, who after his 280-day break due to a wrist injury has dropped to a 162nd place in the world rankings, had to defeat the Italian Fabio Fognini 4: 6 in the first round of the ATP 1000 clay. court tournament in Rome Monday night 6: 7 (5/7) beaten.
In the former world number three, which had previously suffered defeats at the Challenger in Marbella and at the ATP tournaments in Belgrade, Estoril and Madrid, light and shadow changed again against an opponent who was not overwhelming. In five matches so far, Thiem has won only one set, his last victory being from May 12, 2021.
Thiem’s best performance so far in Rome was in 2017, when he was only stopped by Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals after beating Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. However, the 2020 US Open winner is currently far from these heyday. The Lower Austrian acted too inconsistently, too wrongly, especially from before.
Pause and tie break decide
The fifth duel between the two players (Fognini abbreviated to 2: 3) began with an initially safer serve from Thiem, while Fognini had to fend off two breakballs from Thiem in the fourth game. When the score was 4: 4, Fognini had his first chances and the local hero used the second to get the first break. Fognini then converted his second set ball to 6: 4 after 48 minutes.
In the second round, Thiem did not take advantage of a break chance to 2-0 after a service game to zero. This missed opportunity later put him behind again because Thiem had to give up his serve at 3: 3. Fognini made it 5: 3 and had his first match point after 1:36 hours with a 5: 4 lead and his own serve. But Thiem got up again and used his third chance in this match to break again. The old fighting spirit of the four-time major finalist really flashed.
With superb service play from both players, it then went into tie-break. In this, Thiem equalized a 3/5 deficit, but after a total of 1:53 hours, Fognini used his second match point.
Thiem will continue next week at the ATP 250 tournament in Geneva, where he will make his dress rehearsal for the major tournament in Paris just before the French Open (from May 22). Thiem urgently needs confidence to return to Grand Slam level, but he also needs to improve significantly in terms of consistency and a less defective forehand.
ATP 1000 tournament in Rome
(Italy, € 6,008,725, gravel track)