GSTAAD, Switzerland: Viktor Troicki made the most of his return to tennis after serving a one-year ban as the Serb defeated Austria’s Dominic Thiem 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 yesterday to reach the second round of the Swiss Open.
Troicki took down eighth seed Thiem, tipped as a name of the future, with the win helping to boost the Serb’s fragile confidence after being granted a wild card entry after seeing his ranking plummet following his suspension.
Troicki, now 847th in the world, receieved a 12-month ban for delaying a mandatory blood test at Monte Carlo in April 2013 by a day, saying he felt ill.
Despite having blood drawn a day later, he was banned for a year amid protest from Serbian Davis Cup team-mate Novak Djokovic.
“It was very emotional, very strange for me,” said Troicki. “I want to thank the organisers for this wild card, which means a lot to me.”
“This past year was the toughest of my life. It’s very emotional to be back and see all of the guys.
“I felt some tightnes in my game and pressure as I played this first match. I’m very happy that I’m through and that I won. I”m hoping to get back to where I was before the suspension.”
Despite his defeat by Troicki, 20-year-old Thiem will break into the top 50, becoming the youngest member in that category. The Gstaad debutant secured his best ranking after reaching the third round in Hamburg last week.
“It was a tough first-match draw, Victor was not injured and not sick for a year, so he could train all the time,” said Thiem. “I can lose against a player who was once ranked 12th but I’m disappointed.
“I’m here to prepare for Kitzbuehel..it will be home for me and my goal will be to play much better there and Kitzbuehel will feel more normal at 700 metres instead of the 1,050 here.
“To have thought at the start of the year that I would reach 50th (in the world) by July would have been a utopia.
“I just have to set my goals a bit higher now.”
Argentine fifth seed Federico Delbonis began with a victory on a day where play was delayed by rain, beating German Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-3.
Argentine Juan Monaco put out Victor Hanescu 6-4, 7-5 while Kazakh Andrey Golubev advanced over Spain’s Inigo Cervantes 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4). AFP