The season's first Masters 1000 event starts in Miami next week, with some of the world's leading players deciding to skip the USA trip and remain in Europe. After Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, world no. 4 Dominic Thiem is another player who has opting not to travel to Florida, needing that time to practice on clay following a slow start of the season.
The last year's US Open champion and the Australian Open finalist hasn't made a nice connection with the fast surface at the beginning of the new season, winning five out of nine matches and failing to reach the semi-final at any of three singles ATP tournaments he entered.
Thiem lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the Australian Open fourth round and won only one match in Doha last week. Playing in Dubai for the first time in six years, Dominic suffered an unexpected 6-3, 6-4 loss to a qualifier Lloyd Harris in 72 minutes, experiencing the fourth defeat in this year's nine matches.
Dominic Thiem will not play in Miami next week.
Struggling to impose his strokes, Thiem had 18 winners and 18 unforced errors. Harris was way superior, following thrilling 23 winners and eight unforced mistakes, dropping only 11 points in ten service games and never experiencing troubles on serve.
The Austrian got broken once in each set, which was enough to propel the South African through and towards his most notable victory. Thiem will try to bounce back on his beloved clay, setting eyes on his first Roland Garros crown and calling that quest the most important one of the season.
"Well, you know that I like to play a lot, also when I was younger. Now I need to reset myself a little bit to go fresh into the clay season. Right now, I'm in a tough period, and it wouldn't be the right thing to go to Miami.
There was no pain at all in the foot today; it's a bit on and off. Maybe I'll do a quick check or an MRI to see how that thing is developing. But it's not the main issue; it's just that I'm not playing well, that in general, it is a challenging period for me.
I need to see that I'm starting fresh and ready for the first clay tournament, wherever I wanna play," Dominic Thiem said.