Dominic Thiem has continued his successful return to tennis with a straight set win over Alex De Minaur to reach the Madrid quarter-finals.
Thiem hasn't played since March after taking a little break from the sport to 'reset' and overcome some mental and physical challenges which saw him take early exits at the Australian Open, Doha and Dubai.
He has openly admitted that the impact of winning a Grand Slam last year, something he has worked for all of his life, and the COVID restrictions on the Tour had taken their toll on his motivation.
But, making his return this week in Madrid Masters, a tournament he has twice been a finalist, Thiem is gaining confidence match by match and says despite his low expectations, he's happy with the way he's playing.
"There were many long rallies, [which is] exactly what I need right now,” Thiem said after beating De Minaur 7-6, 6-4.
“I am very, very happy again with my performance… It was nice. I love the conditions, the court and the tournament.
“I feel way better than expected. In some points and some rallies, I still feel the lack of matches,” Thiem said.
“I am a little bit more out of breath, I am a little bit too tight in some shots and some strokes.
“Everything has to be a little more relaxed again to be in the match mode. I lost a little bit of intensity after winning that close first set.
"I have to get back in a rhythm, but the more matches I play against these top guys, the quicker I will get back in the match rhythm I need.”
For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter below or via our home page.
Why not test your tennis knowledge by tackling one of our fiendish quizzes too?