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Dominic Thiem competes in his first ATP Tour match since tearing his right wrist last June.

Thiem Upbeat After Return: 'I'm Really Happy Because It Was A Fight'

Former World No. 3 reflects on first ATP Tour match since last June

Dominic Thiem may not have scored the win Tuesday on his ATP Tour return at the Serbia Open, but the Austrian earned a moral victory in a two-and-a-half-hour battle against John Millman.

"It felt good," the former World No. 3 said after his first tour-level match since tearing his right wrist last June. "Actually, I'm really happy because it was a match; it was a fight."

Thiem produced a spirited display to be proud of in a 3-6, 6-3, 4-6 defeat against the Aussie on centre court.

"I'm happy [with] how I was fighting, how I was defending, how I was moving." he said. "The backhand was pretty good. The forehand is not there yet, but I know this and I'm practising so that it's getting better."

After making his competitive return on the ATP Challenger Tour in March, Thiem won a set for the first time in his comeback against Millman. But for now, he is keeping his expectations in check.

"There's not too much to expect here and neither in the next three weeks," he explained. "My goal is to be in good shape in Roland Garros and today doesn't change [that]. Obviously I'm disappointed; I wanted to win. But still, the match itself, how long it was and the intensity, I'm pretty happy about it.

"Of course there are things missing, things that are not that great in my game. But that was completely clear also before this match."

What is also clear — at least to Thiem's opponent — is that the Austrian will soon return to the top of the game. Standing at No. 5 in the ATP Rankings at the time of his injury, Thiem is now at No. 54.

"When you get 100 per cent fit, I'm going to struggle, bud," a smiling Millman said during a warm post-match handshake.

Having last played on the ATP Tour nearly one year ago, when COVID restrictions limited crowds, Thiem was also happy to play in front of a packed stadium once again. 

"That was great. I'm super happy that the fans are back," he said of the experience. "Before my injury it was still pretty tough with COVID. There were many tournaments in front of empty stands."

One such event was the 2020 US Open, where Thiem broke through to win his first Grand Slam title.

"Here, it's full," he continued, "and I'm super pumped for the next weeks to come."

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