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Dominic Thiem loses at Rio Open, falling to 1-2 in 2023

ATP 250 Argentina Open 2023 - First Round

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 14: Dominic Thiem of Austria plays a backhand in the first round singles match against Alex Molcan of Slovakia during day two of the ATP 250 Argentina Open 2023 at Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club on February 14, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)

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RIO DE JANEIRO -- Dominic Thiem is once again fighting through his matches and enjoying himself, but confidence is admittedly still lacking for the 29-year-old.

Thiem lost in the first round of the Rio Open, falling to Thiago Monteiro 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2).

The former world No. 3 and 2020 U.S. Open champion, who came in ranked at No. 96 after battling right wrist and abdominal injuries, fell to 1-2 on the year. He missed the Australian Open and got his first win last week at Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“I was not convinced enough. It is a so-so leg of confidence. A leg of one match this year,” Thiem said. “Today was a little bit better than I did in Buenos Aires. But still when I step in it is too many mistakes. I need to find the right timing again, find myself closer at the baseline again.”

Thiem, who won the Rio Open in 2017, dropped the first set against the 83rd-ranked Monteiro in 27 minutes, with the Austrian making a series of unforced errors.

Thiem righted himself in the second set, relying on his forehand and his patience on the baseline. After a back-and-forth third set, the Brazilian won the tiebreaker comfortably to close out the 2-hour, 46-minute match.

“I was never injured before. I didn’t know how long it would take. It is taking as long as it takes. I am not stressing out,” Thiem said. “I have the feeling I was defining myself way too long with results. It is very unhealthy, especially mentally, if I define myself only with results.”

Monteiro will next face either second-seeded Cameron Norrie or Juan Manuel Cerundolo in the clay-court tournament.

Defending champion and second-ranked Carlos Alcaraz faces Mateus Alves in the first round.