Dominic Thiem falls to world no. 295, experiences another blow

Dominic Thiem fell in the opening round of the Kiskut Open Challenger in Szekesfehevar

by Jovica Ilic
Dominic Thiem falls to world no. 295, experiences another blow
© Stream screenshot

World no. 91 Dominic Thiem entered the Kiskut Open Challenger in Szekesfehevar as the top seed, hoping for a good run on his beloved clay. However, the struggling Austrian experienced another blow, falling to a qualifier Daniel Michalski 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 52 minutes.

Former US Open winner entered his first Challenger event since October last year but turned it into a short campaign, losing in the opening round to world no. 295 and extending his struggle. Thiem experienced a heartbreaking loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open, winning a Davis Cup match after that and staying away from the court for 40 days, recharging batteries ahead of a couple of Challengers on clay.

Dominic slowly walked toward the net after losing to Daniel, probably thinking about retirement more and more after struggling to recover his pre-injury game. Thiem produced fine numbers behind the first serve. However, the second let him down completely, facing seven break points and losing serve three times.

Michalski defended six out of seven break points, prevailing in a tight opener and sealing the deal with a single break in the second set, celebrating his first Challenger win since the end of July last year. The opening set saw a seesaw battle, with 11 break points and numerous deuces in six games.

The Pole squandered a game point at the beginning of the duel and netted a backhand to experience an early setback.

Dominic Thiem, Szekesfehevar 2024© Stream screenshot

The Austrian held at 15 in game two and landed a drop shot winner in the next one for a break chance, looking good to open a 3-0 lead.

Michalski denied it with a drop shot winner and held with an unreturned serve, reducing the deficit and getting his name on the scoreboard. Dominic wasted game points in the fourth game and sprayed a backhand error, losing serve and bringing Daniel back to 2-2.

The Austrian created two break points in the fifth game with winners, and the Pole denied them before holding with a forehand winner for 3-2. Thiem played against a break point in the sixth game, denying it with a forced error and bringing it home with an unreturned serve, remaining on the positive side.

Dominic Thiem experienced another tough loss, this time on clay.

Daniel saved a break point in the seventh game and closed it after deuces for a 4-3 advantage. Thiem faced issues in the eighth game, netting a slice and getting broken at 15.

Michalski served for the set in game nine and produced a hold at love with a service winner, closing the opener after nearly 70 minutes. Dominic held at the beginning of the second set with a forehand winner before Daniel landed a backhand down the line winner in the next one for a hold at love and 1-1.

Thiem could not find the rhythm behind the initial shot in the third game, losing serve at love after a forehand error and finding himself in a challenging position. Michalski held at 30 in the fourth game, cementing the lead and moving closer to the finish line.

Dominic Thiem, Szekesfehevar 2024© Stream screenshot

The Pole opened a 4-2 gap with a service winner in game six before facing a break point two games later after the Austrian's crafty winner at the net. Daniel denied it with a service winner and landed another for a vital hold and a 5-3 advantage.

Thiem served to stay in the match in game nine and placed a backhand wide to face a match point. Dominic saved it with a forehand winner and held with a drop shot winner to prolong the action. Michalski served for the win at 5-4 and forced Thiem's mistake for three match points.

The Pole seized the first with a booming serve, beating a former Roland Garros runner-up and moving into the second round. This loss could be another argument in Dominic's plans to end his career at the end of 2024 if he fails to improve his ranking, finding it pointless to battle for a place in the top-100 after three challenging years.

Thiem started the 2021 season ranked 3rd, winning the US Open a few months earlier. However, the results were not there in the opening half of the year, and everything became much more serious for Dominic after injuring his wrist in June in Mallorca.

The Austrian stayed away from the court until March 2022, and he has yet to reach his old level, ranked outside the top-70 since April of that year. Thiem played in the final in Kitzbuhel last year, staying inside the top-100 thanks to those points.

Dominic Thiem, Szekesfehevar 2024© Stream screenshot

Dominic started the current season in Brisbane, qualifying for the main draw and facing his old rival, Rafael Nadal. Rafa earned a 7-5, 6-1 victory in an hour and a half, taking charge from the closing stages of the opening set and dominating the second.

Thiem faced another tricky rival at the start of the Australian Open, giving everything but falling to Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 7-5, 6-7, 5-7, 6-3 in just under five hours! Dominic fought like a lion in sets three and four, forcing a decider but hitting the exit door.

Thiem grabbed three breaks and lost serve five times, including a crucial break on Auger-Aliassime's side at the beginning of the final set. Dominic should be the top seed at the Zadar Challenger next week, seeking a better form and wins ahead of the ATP clay swing.

Dominic Thiem