Thiem savours 'pretty special' US Open win after injury nightmare

Dominic Thiem earned his first win at a Grand Slam since the 2021 Australian Open (Daniel LEAL)
Dominic Thiem earned his first win at a Grand Slam since the 2021 Australian Open (Daniel LEAL)

Former champion Dominic Thiem secured his first Grand Slam win in almost three years on Monday after beating 25th seed Alexander Bublik in the first round of the US Open.

The Austrian defeated Bublik 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to snap a seven-match losing streak at majors, which included a run of six consecutive first round exits following his run to the last 16 of the 2021 Australian Open.

"It was a very good match basically from the first moment on. It's a pretty special victory, because it's the first since two-and-a-half years at Grand Slams," said Thiem.

The 29-year-old's career has nose-dived since his crowning moment in 2020, when Thiem came from two sets behind to beat Alexander Zverev in that year's pandemic-affected US Open final held behind closed doors.

Once the world number three, Thiem's ranking plummeted to 352 in June 2022 after a wrist injury sidelined him for nine months and prevented him from defending his US Open title.

He is now back inside the top 100, earlier this month reaching the final in Kitzbuehel -- his first championship match since the season-ending ATP Finals in 2020.

"It was a very good road for me," Thiem said of his journey over the past three years.

"Especially personally I was learning a lot, so I don't want to miss anything in this road, but obviously tennis-wise or sports-wise was not easy all the time.

"So that's why I'm even happier that I got the win today. First win on Grand Slam since a while. I had some good previous weeks as well with the first finals after the injury.

"So it's feeling good, and I'm really looking forward to the next one."

- Misfiring Bublik -

The world number 81 was helped by an erratic Bublik, who committed 17 double fault and 44 unforced errors

Thiem, who turns 30 on Sunday, saw his section of the draw open up further Monday as fourth seed Holger Rune crashed out to journeyman Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.

Next up for Thiem is US youngster Ben Shelton -- one of 19 Americans who started in the men's field.

"With every success, with every match, especially with bigger successes or better weeks like I had in Austria when I played my first finals or also here, back on winning ways in Grand Slams, it helps a lot on the mental side and to get the full trust again in the wrist," said Thiem.

Thiem admitted his motivation waned somewhat in the aftermath of his 2020 US Open triumph, but he said he never considered retiring despite his struggles with injury and form.

"No, I never had the thought of quitting really. Still a little bit too young for that, I guess," said Thiem, who has fond memories of New York.

"Coming back here always helps. But not only because I won here, but because of the city and because of the tournament itself. It just has a special energy.

"If you spend two, three weeks here in New York City, it gives you all the energy, then it gets a little bit too much maybe. But, no, coming back here is always a great, great experience."