The road back to the top of the tennis world for Dominic Thiem is rocky. On Tuesday, the Austrian lost his first round match in Belgrade.

The 28-year-old lost to Australian John Millman 3:6, 6:3 and 4:6 at the Serbia Open. The former world number three and 2020 US Open winner showed some good approaches against the 32-year-old Millman, but had to concede defeat to the world number 80 after 2:33 hours.

It was Thiem’s second match of the calendar year after he had undergone hand surgery in the summer of 2021 due to a tear in the tendon sheath and the associated joint capsule. His last match before the operation was the round of 16 in Mallorca in June last year, when he had to retire abruptly after leading 5-2 against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

301 days until his return to the “real” Tour

He made his “small” comeback at the end of March this year when he lost to Pedro Cachin of Argentina 3-6 and 4-6 in the first round at the ATP Challenger in Marbella, Spain. After that he was set back again by a coronavirus infection – 301 days had passed until Thiem reappeared on the “real” tour in Belgrade on Tuesday.

Next stops: Estoril and Geneva

Actually, he had planned to return at the Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami, but then he decided to withdraw – also because he wanted to play the clay court season, which is now in full swing.

In Belgrade, this now ended early in round one. Thiem has announced his participation in Estoril (Portugal) next week as well as in Geneva (from 14 May) in the week immediately before the French Open in Paris.