The former World No. 3 battled to a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5) first-round victory against Emil Ruusuvuori on Tuesday afternoon at the Nordea Open in Bastad. It was the Austrian’s first tour-level win for 14 months, nine of which the 2020 US Open champion spent out of action due to a wrist injury.
“It’s a long time,” said Thiem in his on-court interview. “My last victory was in Rome in 2021, it feels like a different world somehow. Many, many things happened. It was tough, but it was also a very good experience, I think, for life in general. I’m so happy that I got this first victory here today.”
Thiem was under pressure early against the World No. 43 Ruusuvuori in the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting. The Finn raced to an unassailable 5-1 lead in the opening set, but Thiem raised his level to roar back into contention by reeling off five games in a row in the second set to level proceedings.
Despite some nervous moments in the deciding-set tie-break, Thiem stayed solid to clinch just his second win at any level in 2022 having saved eight from 12 break points against the clean-hitting Finn.
“It was a very difficult match,” said Thiem. “I didn’t have a very good start and then I fought really well, 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 have to control the nerves a little bit better, especially when it gets to the end.”
Thiem’s next opponent on his debut appearance in Bastad will be fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
Earlier on Tuesday, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina notched an impressive 6-4, 6-2 win against Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Bastad for the first time. The Spaniard, who surged to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final on the clay at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April, next faces a tough assignment against Sebastian Baez after the eighth seed eased to a 6-3, 6-4 win against 2018 champion Fabio Fognini.
Swiss qualifier Marc-Andrea Huesler pulled off a first-round shock by running out a 6-3, 6-4 winner against seventh seed Holger Rune. The win lifts Huesler 11 spots to No. 97 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. The 26-year-old’s previous tour-level win prior to his triumph over #NextGenATP Dane Rune came in November 2020 in Sofia.
A pair of first-round matches with one-sided opening sets also saw Aslan Karatsev and Federico Coria advance to the second round in Sweden.
Karatsev breezed through the opening set against Lorenzo Sonego, but had to rally from a break down in the third set to complete a 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 win and extend his ATP Head2Head series against the Italian to 3-0. In contrast, Coria endured a nightmare start to his all-Argentine clash with qualifier Federico Delbonis, but the World No. 65 raised his game for a 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 win to book a second-round appointment with Andrey Rublev