Dominic Thiem says memories of losing the 2020 Australian Open final lingered during lockdown, but helped him to capture the US Open crown in September.
Twelve months ago, Thiem beat Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev en route to the Australian Open final, his third Grand Slam championship title match, where he lost to Novak Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“It was a hell of a run, hell of a tournament in general just with [that] last little step missing,” the Austrian said on Saturday. “I always love to look back at the 2020 edition and can’t wait [for] the tournament [to] start on Monday for me.
“I was thinking so much about that tournament, especially about the lost final in the first part of the lockdown. [When] the lockdown started, I had so much time to think about everything, to reflect on everything, what was happening.
“It was not a nice thought because maybe it was the best tournament I’ve ever played, six amazing matches, especially [the] quarter-finals against Rafa and [the] semi-finals against Sascha. They were outstanding matches. Also, the final against Novak was so good. I didn’t win it, so that was so painful.”
But winning his first major title in September, with a 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) victory over Zverev in the US Open final, erased the doubts.
“The US Open title deleted everything, somehow,” said Thiem. “I wouldn’t have won it probably [without losing in Melbourne]. I was probably way stronger in my mind. But now I just try to recall all the positive memories and positive energy from last year. It was an outstanding two weeks for me.”
Thiem begins his Australian Open campaign on Monday when he faces Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in the first round. It will be his eighth tilt at the title, but the 27-year-old still believes World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is the title favourite.
“He’s the top favourite for the title, no doubt,” said Thiem. “I think conditions are suiting his game perfectly. Then obviously if you win a tournament so many times… you get automatic confidence somehow.”