US Open tennis champ Thiem sets sights on Dubai glory

Women’s event begins on March 7, will feature defending champion Simona Halep

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DUBAI: Dominic Thiem will bid to become the first Austrian since Thomas Muster in 1997 to lift the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy when the tournament gets underway in a few days’ time.

The reigning US Open champion will be the top seed and will be hoping to emulate his legendary countryman who overcame Goran Ivanisevic in a thrilling final to claim the title. Since then, no other player from Austria has managed to land the coveted prize.

Thiem, who as well as defeating Alexander Zverev to win the 2020 US Open and making the final of both the 2018 and 2019 French Opens and the 2020 Australian Open, also reached the final of the ATP Tour Finals in the past two seasons.

But he has some catching up to do in Dubai, where in 2015, his only previous appearance, he fell in the first round to Roberto Bautista Agut.

“Dominic Thiem has already proven that he is worthy to be named alongside Thomas Muster as one of the greatest tennis players that Austria has produced,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.

“His results, particularly over the past two seasons, have often been spectacular, and we very much look forward to welcoming him back to Dubai.”

Thiem, 27, will certainly provide excitement as well as showcase the skills that have seen him achieve outstanding results against the best in the game.

His US Open triumph was full of drama as he fought his way back from two sets down to claim his 17th career title in a fifth tie-break. He was the first player to win the US Open in a final set tie-break, the first to win there from two sets down since Pancho Gonzales in 1949, and the first to win any Grand Slam from two sets down since Gaston Gaudio at the 2004 French Open.

Having come so close to claiming his maiden Grand Slam crown three times before, the victory was a lifetime ambition and a huge relief to him.

“Yeah, definitely I achieved a life goal, a dream for myself, which I had for many, many years,” Thiem said after the final.

“Of course, as a kid when I started to play tennis, back then it’s so far away. Then I got closer and closer to the top. At one point I realized that ‘wow, maybe one day I can really win one of the four biggest titles in tennis.’

“I put a lot of work in. I dedicated basically my whole life until this point to win one of the four majors. Now I did it. That’s also for myself a great accomplishment,” he added.

Thiem’s chase for the title starts on March 14 and will follow the star-studded WTA1000 week which begins on March 7 and will feature defending champion Simona Halep, former Dubai winners Petra Kvitova, Elina Svitolina, and Belinda Bencic, 2020 US Open runner-up and WTA Comeback Player of the Year Victoria Azarenka, 2021 Abu Dhabi winner Aryna Sabalenka, 2020 French Open and 2021 Adelaide champion Iga Swiatek, former two-time Grand Slam champ Garbine Muguruza, and Tunisian sensation Ons Jabeur.

Tournament director, Salah Tahlak, said: “Excitement is mounting as we come closer and closer to two weeks of great tennis that is certain to produce many thrills and upsets.

“Dominic Thiem is such an exciting player to watch and will definitely start as one of the favorites for the title, but success is never guaranteed, and he faces a formidable challenge.”

Thiem will be in competition for the title against five-time 2020 title-winner and world No. 8 Andrey Rublev, 2021 ATP Cup finalist Matteo Berrettini, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, 2020 US Open quarter-finalist Denis Shapovalov, 2020 Dubai semi-finalist Gael Monfils, 2018 Dubai champion Agut, 2021 Montpellier winner David Goffin, and 2020 US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta.

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