Dominic Thiem has declared himself “definitely back” after 7-6(7-5) 3-6 6-4 victory over Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
After going more than a year without a win and seeing his ATP ranking plummet to 339, Thiem has won back-to-back matches at the Swedish Open in Bastad.
Speaking after the match, Thiem said: “It is a process. I beat [Emil] Ruusuvuori and today I beat Bautista Agut. Two really top opponents, so if I can beat them I am definitely back, I am into the quarters of a really strong tournament, so I am happy. It is a process, but I am going the right way.”
His win over Spaniard Bautista Agut sets up a quarter-final match against either Argentinian Sebastian Baez or Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and suggests Thiem is finally finding form again after his wrist injury.
Sweden has escaped the heat wave which has engulfed most of Europe this week but Thiem was still made to sweat it out in the first set against the dogged Spanish veteran Bautista Agut.
Thiem took that set 7-6 despite going 2-5 down. It took 70 minutes, but showed confidence and assured footwork which has been missing in recent months. He would lose the second set before prevailing in the decider
Thiem was delighted with the result. Speaking after the match, he said: “It is great to play here. It is an amazing atmosphere and I am so happy that I won today so I can have at least another match tomorrow. It was really good.”
After suffering a wrist injury in the Mallorca Open in 2021, Thiem has struggled to find his form and played without aggression. In Bastad he has played aggressively, suggesting he is finding his confidence once again.
Thiem admitted as much, adding; “The win against Emil gave me confidence that I can compete against the best players in the world and today against Roberto. He is always such a tough opponent. I was expecting and hoping it would be a close match. Then when I won the first set in the tie-break I said ‘Hey, I can win today.’ I had the belief until the end of the match and the third set was really good.”
Since returning in March this year, Thiem has suffered first-round exits at Marbella, Belgrade, Estoril, Madrid, Rome, Geneva and Roland Garros. He advanced to the second round in Salzburg last week, getting his first win in over a year, beating Argentinean Facundo Bagnis in three sets.
He made it two wins in a week on Tuesday, beating Ruusuvuori in a third-set tie-breaker at Bastad. During the match against Ruusuvuori, Thiem ended a run of eight consecutive matches without winning even one set.
Thiem has a 73.76% career winning record on clay. Of active players, only Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have a better record. So it is perhaps no surprise that a clay court tournament sees the first signs of Thiem returning to the form which took him as high as world No. 3 just two years ago.