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Thiem loses Wimbledon thriller to Tsitsipas, but encouraged by result

Dominic Thiem was once in the business of winning major titles. Now, at least for the time being, he is in the business of moral victories.

That’s why the Austrian can leave Wimbledon with his head held high despite exiting in the first round with a loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Thiem went toe to toe with the No. 5 seed for the entirety of three hours and 56 minutes before falling 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(10-8) on Wednesday afternoon.

“Obviously it was a great encounter, and to me, I’m leaving with heads up,” the 29-year-old commented. “(It) kind of showed me that I’m still there. The quality was very, very good. The fighting spirit was really, really good.

“Yeah, this match showed me a lot of good things that I’m still here, still able to compete with the big boys of the game. Obviously it’s tough, but…well…(a) tiebreak in the fifth is like a penalty shootout. All credit to him as well how he played in the ‘breaker.”

Thiem had a chance to win it before the tiebreak. The best point of the match came with Tsitsipas serving down 30-40 at 3-3 in the decider, when the 24-year-old answered a perfect backhand pass by his opponent with a lunging forehand volley winner.

“How he saved that break point in the fifth was just unbelievable,” Thiem said.

Tsitsipas, too, had chances of his own. The Greek brought up a match point with his opponent serving at 5-6, but the 2020 U.S. Open champion fought it off with a perfect serve-forehand combination. Tsitsipas earned his second match point on his own serve at 9-7 in the ‘breaker, but that opportunity also went by the wayside. Finally, Tsitsipas got a look at a second serve at 9-8, Thiem did not do enough with a backhand approach shot, and Tsitsipas clinched the win with a forehand passing shot.

With the loss, Thiem is now 7-15 at the ATP level this season. It has been more than two years since he suffered a wrist injury during the 2021 grass-court swing, but progress remains slow. He is barely inside the top 100 at 91st in the world and even on clay he was enduring early-round losses on the Challenger circuit in recent weeks.

This first-round ouster was very different.

“Here I am, you know,” Thiem said, “losing 6-7 in the fifth, playing a very good match, fighting unbelievable. Yeah, it shows me that I’m here, that I’m able to do very good things still. (It) also motivates me for the upcoming weeks.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.