Dominic Thiem, who last weekend claimed the Kitzbuhel crown in his home country on clay, is starting his North American hard-court season in Montreal with a modest goal: to win one match at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
The 26-year-old is winless at the Rogers Cup tournament in five appearances, including a loss to eventual finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2018. Thiem also fell to Gilles Simon in 2014, Ernests Gulbis in 2015, Kevin Anderson in 2016 and Diego Schwartzman in 2017.
"It's a shocking stat,” Thiem said. “Not the ideal preparation for me. But, of course, I'll try my best to get my first victory here."
Thiem picked up his third ATP title of the season this past Saturday in Kitzbuhel. (Getty Images)
Thiem will not have the crowd with him in the second round of Montreal, when he plays against the Canadian Denis Shapovalov. But he wants to use the positive energy he got from winning Kitzbuhel as he changes surfaces.
"I couldn't get here with more confidence," said the Austrian.
"It was such an emotional week: four matches [in front of] a sold-out Austrian crowd with my first title on home soil. Of course, it was not the biggest title of my career, but probably the most beautiful one. It's a little short [on] time to prepare. Not going to be easy with the switch from clay to hard courts, only three days in between, and a very tough opponent. I really like the way I'm playing right now."
While hard courts have not been Thiem's favorite surface, he won Indian Wells earlier this tear, upsetting Roger Federer in the final for the biggest title of his career. That gives him confidence in his return to hard courts as he looks to make necessary adjustments in transitioning from dirt.
"Most of the time, I return in the clay-court season four or five meters from the baseline. It's over now. I have to get closer to the baseline again," said Thiem. "I can use my slice more. The serve is also a big difference. Most of the time, I serve kick or three-quarter serves. Now, I'm going to go full power flat again. These are three of the most important things."
With Federer and Novak Djokovic not playing the Rogers Cup, Thiem is the No. 2 seed in Montreal, behind Rafael Nadal.