Djokovic, Thiem advance after slow starts in Vienna openers

Djokovic, Thiem advance after slow starts in Vienna openers

VIENNA — Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem overcame first-set slumps in their opening-round matches Tuesday before advancing at the Erste Bank Open.

Top-seeded Djokovic lost four straight games and had to save a set point before beating Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (6), 6-3 in an all-Serbian match, and No. 2 Thiem nearly squandered a 5-1 lead in his 6-4, 7-5 win over Vitaliy Sachko of Ukraine.

It was Djokovic’s first match since losing the French Open final to Rafael Nadal, and his first indoor tournament since the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid in November 2019.

“I hope I have many more gears above today’s level. I tried to be positive about my performance, about the game,” said Djokovic, who improved to 38-2 for the season.

“It’s not the first time that I kind of start a bit slower in the beginning of a tournament and then every day I get kind of a step further in the right direction,” he added.

Djokovic had an early break for a 3-1 lead but lost the next four games against his regular hitting partner.

However, Krajinovic failed to close out the set as he scored just one point while serving at 5-4. He later missed a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker and netted a smash on the following point.

“I know that Filip knows my game very well,” Djokovic said. “I trained well the last couple of days, but it is different playing a match. Nerves were kicking in and I wasn’t playing well in the first set. He was playing better and I was a bit lucky as one or two points can really shift the momentum of the game.”

Djokovic also took a 3-1 lead in the second but this time saved a break point in the fifth game and wrapped up the win when Krajinovic hit a forehand long and dropped serve for a second time in the set.

Djokovic, who won the event in his last appearance here in 2007, meets Borna Coric in the second round.

Thiem faced similar struggles against the 529th-ranked Sachko. The Ukrainian made his ATP tour debut replacing Kei Nishikori, who pulled out with a shoulder injury.

The defending champion quickly went 5-1 up but lost his next two service games before breaking Sachko again at 5-4.

Thiem lost a 4-1 lead in the second set but broke Sachko once again at 6-5 with a powerful backhand passing shot.

“I had problems getting into the match, lost my serve too many times. But in general I am happy, and the last couple of games had the right intensity,” Thiem said.

It was the U.S. Open champion’s 10th straight win in Austria, after winning both Kitzbuehel and Vienna last year.

Thiem next plays Cristian Garin, who defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-7 (9), 6-3. Wawrinka was Djokovic’s opponent in the 2007 final.

Grigor Dimitrov, Hubert Hurkacz and Lorenzo Sonego all had straight-set wins, while Dan Evans led 6-3, 4-5 when his opponent, Aljaz Bedene, quit the match with an injury.

After health and safety measures were tightened in Austria last week, 1,000 spectators were allowed in the 9,000-capacity Stadthalle arena.

___

More AP Tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Eric Willemsen, The Associated Press

Tennis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Robichaud welcomes members of the Liberian Coast Guard aboard the HMCS Moncton for training with Royal Canadian Navy off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, Africa. (Contributed photo by Corp. Ryan Moulton)
Red Deer-raised woman finds her sea legs as commander in the Royal Canadian Navy

Cdr. Nicole Robichaud started out as a local sea cadet

Rode
Feddema adds size and grit to RDC basketball Queens

Iris Feddema has known for several years what she wanted her future… Continue reading

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in the sky over north Red Deer on Wednesday. (Photo contributed by Eric Fischer)
Photo: Planes criss-cross over Red Deer

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

A man injects hydromorphone at the Providence Health Care Crosstown Clinic in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
NDP lawmaker tables bill to decriminalize drug use as overdose deaths soar

NDP lawmaker tables bill to decriminalize drug use as overdose deaths soar

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Low-carbon bucks: Conservatives pitch consumer carbon pricing through savings account

Low-carbon bucks: Conservatives pitch consumer carbon pricing through savings account

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo responds to a question about vaccines during a weekly news conference, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 in Ottawa. Njoo says a faster vaccine ramp-up alone would likely not have thwarted the third wave of COVID-19 in many parts of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine point man aims to ensure more predictability for shipments

Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine point man aims to ensure more predictability for shipments

Evan Siddall is pictured in Ottawa on September 21, 2017. Former head of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Evan Siddall has been named as the next chief executive for Alberta Investment Management Corp. He will succeed Kevin Uebelein. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims addresses the airline's annual meeting in Calgary, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

The TMX broadcast centre is shown in Toronto on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

A man wearing a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 checks his phone as the sun sets in English Bay in Vancouver on April 5, 2021. Canada's existing mobile phone services and consumer groups will get a landmark ruling from the CRTC this afternoon. The regulatory ruling could shift some of the market power held by Rogers, Bell and Telus, which collectively have more than 90 per cent of the country's subscribers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

Most Read