Despite finishing the year as the world number five, reaching a career high of fourth in November 2017 was arguably a mixed year for Dominic Thiem, with the Austrian performing well on clay but struggling on hard and grass courts; however, for the first time, Thiem was able to make the second week at every Grand Slam tournament.
The Austrian is turning 25 this year, and many are looking for Thiem to start to become more consistent throughout the season, and for him to also start to make several deep runs at the Grand Slam tournaments. With his highest seeding at a Grand Slam to date, will he be able to go on a strong run at the 2018 Australian Open?
With many big ATP stars struggling with injuries, Thiem was able to stay fit throughout most the season and put in a solid season, though there were some moments where he looked like he was struggling.
Thiem started off reasonably well, reaching the second week in Melbourne for the first time despite a fairly poor build-up, though then failed to make much of an impact in either Sofia or Rotterdam. The Austrian rebounded to win his sole title of 2017 on clay in Rio de Janeiro, beating Pablo Carreno Busta in the final. Though he reached the last eight in Miami, he generally struggled until the clay court season well and truly started, losing to Rafael Nadal in finals in Barcelona and Madrid, beating the Spaniard on his way to reaching the last four in Rome, and then falling to Nadal once again in the French Open semifinals.
He picked up only one win on grass heading into Wimbledon, though was able to reach the second week there for the first time, falling to former finalist Tomas Berdych in five sets, and lost early in both Washington and Montreal before reaching the last eight in Cincinnati. The Austrian played well at the US Open and nearly made the last eight for the first time, though lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round, despite being two sets up and holding two match points. Thiem had a rather drab end to the season, failing to reach the quarterfinal of five tournaments in the row and then crashing out in the group stage at the year-end Championships.
Australian Open preparation
Ahead of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, Thiem displayed some impressive tennis before his preparation was briefly disrupted by illness.
After losing to Kevin Anderson at an exhibition in Abu Dhabi, The Austrian was the top seed at the ATP 250 event, the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, and saw off Evgeny Donskoy in straight sets in the opening round. Thiem then recorded back-to-back 7-5, 6-4 wins over Aljaz Bedene and rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas, before unfortunately having to pull out of his semifinal encounter against Gael Monfils due to a fever.
Though his withdrawal from Doha was disappointing, Thiem will certainly be ready for the Australian Open. The Austrian is in Melbourne practicing ahead of the tournament and has taken part in some exhibition events, losing to Novak Djokovic at the Kooyong Classic and taking part in the Tie Break Tens on Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday.
Best Australian Open result
As previously mentioned, Thiem’s best result at the Australian Open came last year, making the second week for the first time in his fourth appearance at the tournament.
Seeded eighth, Thiem did not have the easiest start, coming from a set down to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff in four sets in the first round. The Austrian prevailed in four sets once again in his second match, seeing off home favorite Jordan Thompson, before winning a third consecutive four-set match against Benoit Paire to reach the second week for the fourth time. There, he won the first set but eventually fell to 11th seed David Goffin in four sets.
Thiem has not exactly thrived at the Australian Open in the past, having made the second week just once in four attempts, but is seeded in a good position for this year’s tournament (he won’t face anyone higher than him until at least the quarterfinals) and showed some fairly promising tennis in Doha this week. With a good draw and some strong performances in the early rounds, Thiem could go on a strong run in Melbourne this year.