Dominic Thiem would have liked his seventh tour duel with Andrej Rublew for a later date in the Australian Open: Austria’s number one gave the Russian Andrej Rublew the draw for the tennis Grand Slam tournament.
The Lower Austrian, equipped with a wild card, is a clear outsider against the 25-year-old. Already at the US Open in late summer, Thiem had no luck with the draw: as the tournament winner in 2020, he had also received a wildcard there, but against Pablo Carreno Busta, who was number twelve, he was quick 5: 7, 1: 6, 7 :5, 3:6 end of the line. With Rublew he now meets Thiem in Melbourne on the sixth in the world rankings. Most recently, he reached the quarter-finals at the French and US Opens, but a year ago “down under” it was the end of the third round for him. Two years ago he made it to the quarterfinals.
Before his ninth appearance at the first major of the year, Thiem had a better record there than the 25-year-old Rublev, of course the final participation three years ago with a five-set defeat against the Serbian Novak Djokovic was outstanding. There are also rounds of 16 in 2017, 2018 and 2021. Two years ago, Thiem lost in his first major as a Grand Slam winner to Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in three sets, last year he had to pass due to his wrist injury. Most recently, Thiem completed a long, intensive pre-season.
Four defeats without winning a set
What could certainly be better for him is the match practice. After a few exhibition games, he was eliminated by Adelaide in the first qualifying round on New Year’s Eve and then opted for a training block in Melbourne. At the Kooyong Classic invitation tournament there this week, he lost to the Australian Alex de Minaur and subsequently won against the American Frances Tiafoe.
In the head-to-head with Rublew, Thiem is 2: 4 behind, with the four defeats most recently being en suite and without winning a set. Only in 2017 in the first round in Vienna and in 2018 in Monte Carlo did the 2020 US Open winner prevail. Rublew then won the 2019 Hamburg and 2020 Vienna quarterfinals, also in 2020 at the ATP Finals and last October in the semifinals of Gijon. Rublev won the tournament and later reached the semifinals at the ATP Finals. In the still young new year, Rublew, who was looked after by Fernando Vincente, left the Adelaide opener.
Djokovic stopped training
Another opening hit is the duel between the Scot Andy Murray and the Italian Matteo Berrettini. After the cancellation of his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz, the top seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal starts against the British Jack Draper, the second-ranked Norwegian Casper Ruud against the Czech Tomas Machac. Like Thiem and Ruud, Novak Djokovic starts in the lower half of the grid after his forced Corona absence last year, against the Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena. In addition to Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas (Gre) and Daniil Medvedev (Rus) are also listed above.
Debut by Julia Grabher
On her major debut, Julia Grabher from Vorarlberg meets Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who is in 16th place. Grabher has never played against Kontaveit, the Baltin is the clear favorite in this premiere duel. Her autumn highlight was reaching the final at the home tournament Tallinn Open. After last year’s French Open, the six-time title holder on the tour was second in the world rankings for three weeks, but then slipped to number 17. This year, the 27-year-old coached by German Torben Beltz only had one first out in Adelaide. Grabher reached the Auckland Round of 16 at the beginning of the year, but the 26-year-old was eliminated in the Hobart qualifier. “An attractive but also difficult challenge,” Grabher commented on her lot on Facebook. “Despite their absolute world class, I definitely believe in my possibilities. If I perform confidently and can play my game, everything is within reach.”
The women’s singles title is vacant after the resignation of Australian Ashleigh Barty, the favorite is the Polish world number one Iga Swiatek. She starts in a new edition of the US Open round of 16 in a tricky game against the German Jule Niemeier. Swiatek recently suffered from shoulder problems.
Ofner was eliminated in the qualification
Thiem (ranking 99th) and Grabher (83rd) did not receive red-white-red growth from the qualification: After Sebastian Ofner was the only one of an ÖTV quintet to make it into the third round of elimination, the Styrian lost to the Frenchman Laurent Lokoli 3:6, 6:7. On the other hand, the Vienna winners Alexander Erler/Lucas Miedler are doing well for their major debut: At the ATP250 event in Auckland they are in the doubles semifinals and will play in a Davis Cup dress rehearsal on Friday against the top seeded Croatians Nikola Mektic /Mate Pavic.
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I am Pierce Boyd, a driven and ambitious professional working in the news industry. I have been writing for 24 Hours Worlds for over five years, specializing in sports section coverage. During my tenure at the publication, I have built an impressive portfolio of articles that has earned me a reputation as an experienced journalist and content creator.