The return of Dominic Thiem to the ATP Tour has been a long and eventful with plenty of false starts, but his comeback on the main Tour finally came about at the Serbia Open, a 250 event being staged in Belgrade at the Novak Tennis Centre for only the fifth time.
The 28-year-old Austrian, a former world No.3, who has been out of action since June last year with a wrist injury put up a brave fight against Aussie John Millman and after levelling the first-round match, went down 6-3 3-6 6-4 after two-hours and 35-minutes.
“It is great to be back here. I was looking forward to coming back and [playing]. All credit to Domi,” Millman said following his victory.
“I can’t claim it was one of my biggest wins because he is just coming back from injury and I know how hard that is, coming back from three surgeries myself.
“I know it has been tough for Domi but the game is better having him back. Especially on this (clay) surface.
“I have got to take this win because when he gets better and fitter, it is going to be tough.”
He first tested his wrist a month ago when he played the Marbella Challenger where he suffered a first-round loss to Pedro Cachin of Argentina and then immediately tested positive for Covid-19!
Thiem, a former US Open champion and two-time French Open runner-up as well as an Australian Open finalist, has dropped to 54 in the world rankings during his absence from the tour.
Thiem now travels to Estoril where he hopes his fortunes will take a turn for the better while Millman takes on the seventh seed from Serbia, Miomir Kecmanovic, who easily dispatched Richard Gasquet of France 6-0 6-3.
In other action the Czech Jiri Lehecka booked a meeting with second seed Andrey Rublev by beating the Swiss Henri Laaksonen 6-2 7-5, while the 8th seeded Serbian Filip Krajinovic overcame Belgium’s David Goffin 6-3 7-6(4).