After going down two sets to love against Nick Kyrgios on Friday, World No. 3 Dominic Thiem dug deep to outlast the Aussie in nearly three-and-a-half hours to reach the fourth round.
Finding himself in a familiar position in his next match against No. 18 seed Grigor Dimitrov, who raced out to a 6-4, 6-4 lead, Thiem was not able to find another level as his opponent needed just 21 minutes to reel off the next six games and seal the Austrian’s exit in straight sets.
The reigning US Open champion, who reached the final here last year, was candid in his post-match press conference about not feeling “100 per cent” in his fourth-round defeat. But Thiem was also quick to give credit to his opponent Dimitrov, former World No.3 and 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion, in a performance that left little room for a comeback.
“He’s one of the best players on tour. If he’s on, he’s super tough to play, especially in faster conditions than now,” Thiem said. “I really wish that he can make a great breakthrough at a Grand Slam. He would definitely deserve it.
“I was not on a hundred per cent today, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Grigor or anybody else, they are just way too good [for me to] them if I’m not 100 per cent.”
Coming into the match against Dimitrov, Thiem trailed 2-3 in their ATP Head2Head series, with the Bulgarian claiming victories in their past two matches in the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals title match and at the 2019 Rolex Paris Masters.
Third-seeded Thiem was quick to brush off excuses on what he described as a ‘really, really bad day’, but admitted that ‘little physical issues’ contributed to his earliest Grand Slam exit since the 2019 US Open (first round).
“Really, I think a combination of some things, some little physical issues, plus a real bad day, plus the fact that, well, [Grigor] is a great player,” Thiem explained.
“I don’t want to find any excuses. But the thing also is that I’m also not a machine. I mean, sometimes I would like to be, but there are really, really bad days. As soon as you’re not a hundred per cent there on the court on this level, then results like this come up, and that’s exactly what happened today.”
Thiem exited Melbourne with a 4-2 record on the season so far. The World No.3 claimed one victory in two matches at the ATP Cup representing Austria before the Australian Open. Dimitrov advanced to his fourth quarter-final in Melbourne, where he will face Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev.