WATCH: Thiem was in great spirits after winning his first tour-level match since the 2021 Internazionali BNL d'Italia.


Dominic Thiem is rediscovering his game in Bastad, a city where the sun never quite sets.

“I woke up to go the bathroom at 3:30 or something, but it’s never completely dark [here],” joked the Austrian during his on-court interview. “That’s a new experience. Never dark, never quiet. That’s good.”

Thiem had just ushered in what he hopes to be the dawning of his ATP comeback, scoring his first tour-level win in 14 months at the Nordea Open over Emil Ruusuvori, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5).

“It’s a long time,” admitted the 2020 US Open champion. “The last victory on the ATP tour was in Rome 2021. It feels like a different world somehow. Many, many things happened and it was tough, but it was also a good experience for life in general and for all my tennis. I’m so happy that I got this first victory here today.”

Thiem was undoubtedly on top of the world at the end of a difficult 2020 season, surviving Alexander Zverev to capture his first Grand Slam title, but persistent wrist issues derailed his momentum and kept him from returning to New York to defend his title.

He returned to action at the end of March to play an ATP Challenger in Marbella, but it wouldn’t be until early July that the 28-year-old would win his first match on any level, at home in Salzburg.

Down a set to Ruusuvuori, who, by contrast, is fresh off earning a career-high ranking of No. 43 this week, Thiem was made to battle through a nervy final set that ultimately ended in favor of the former world No. 3.

“It was a very difficult match,” said Thiem, currently ranked No. 329. “I didn’t have a very good start and then I was fighting really good, but I had a really tough period with many losses and not many wins. So, it was really difficult for me to close out the match even though I played pretty good in the second and third sets. I’m really happy with that, but I have to control the nerves a little bit better, especially when it got to the end. I was happy when he gave the match to me with a double fault; I really needed that.”

Thiem’s road back will only get tougher when he faces No. 4 seed Roberto Bautista Agut on Wednesday; the two last played on hard courts in 2021, where the Spaniard won in three sets.

Still, with plenty of good vibes surrounding the snakebitten sentimental favorite, Thiem hopes for as long a stay as possible in Bastad.

“It’s the first time in Sweden, even! I love Scandinavia; I’ve been to Iceland for holidays, and I’ve been to Finland and Denmark. This is the first time in Sweden and I obviously love the sea, the northern sea, as well, with all the beautiful beaches.”