The wait was long, but Dominique Thiem is again a winner on the ATP circuit.
The former world No. 3 battled to a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5) first-round win over Emil Ruusuvuori Tuesday afternoon at Nordea Open in Bastad. It was the Austrian’s first victory at tour level in 14 months, including nine in 2020 U.S. Open champion passed out of action due to a wrist injury.
“It’s a long time,” Thiem said during his on-court interview. “My last victory was in Rome in 2021, it kind of feels like a different world. Many, many things happened. It was tough, but it was also a very good experience, I think, for life in general. I’m so happy to get this first victory here today.
Thiem was under pressure early against world No. 43 Ruusuvuori in the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting. The Finn took an unassailable 5-1 lead in the first set but Thiem raised his level to come back strong winning five straight in the second set to level the proceedings.
Despite some nervous moments in the deciding set tie-break, Thiem stayed solid to pick up his second win at any level in 2022 after saving eight out of 12 break points against the clean-hitting Finn.
“It was a very difficult game,” Thiem said. “I didn’t have a very good start and then I fought very well, but I had a really difficult period with a lot of defeats and few wins, so it was really difficult for me to finish the game. Even though I played pretty well in the second and third sets, I have to control the nerves a bit better, especially when it comes to the end.
Thiem’s next opponent in his first Bastad appearance will be the fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
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Earlier Tuesday, Alexander Davidovich Fokina picked up an impressive 6-4, 6-2 win over Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Bastad for the first time. The Spaniard, who reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final on clay in Rolex Monte Carlo Masters in April, next facing a difficult task against the eighth seed Sebastien Baez or champion 2018 Fabio Fognini.
A pair of first-round matches with one-sided opening sets also saw Aslan Karatsev and Federico Coria advance to the second round in Sweden.
Karatsev came through the first set against Lorenzo Sonego, but had to regroup after a breakdown in the third set to claim a 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 win and extend his ATP Head2Head streak against the Italian to 3-0. By contrast, Coria had a nightmare start to their all-Argentinian qualifier clash Federico Delbonisbut the world No. 65 raised his game for a 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 win to book a second-round date with Andrei Rublev.
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