Dominic Thiem overturned a two-set deficit against local favorite Nick Kyrgios on Friday to prevail 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open. In the aftermath of the remarkable match, Kyrgios downplayed his disappointment with the result and instead heaped lavish praise on Thiem.
"He's a hell of a player," Kyrgios said. "He's so disciplined. He's so composed. His level doesn't drop. It is what it is."
Kyrgios claimed he was pleased that Thiem's hard work had been rewarded, while insisting that the loss didn't bother him too much because he'll "live on tomorrow".
"As soon as I lost, I wasn't upset. I was smiling, I was happy for him. He's put in a lot of work, the body of work, the foundation he's put in. He's rewarded for it. I'm happy for it. I'm not a jealous or envious person. So I lose, I'll live on tomorrow," the Australian said.
Kyrgios then went on to recount where it went wrong for him during the course of the match, before claiming that the lack of tennis over the past year may have been a factor in the result.
"If I take one of those break points in the 3rd set early I think the match is over in an hour and 45 minutes," Kyrgios continued. "I could definitely feel he was going away towards the end of the second. He was a bit rattled, and I played a heck of a first game in the third set."
"I just missed a couple of balls by really nothing, you know. Maybe if I played more last year, maybe if I trained more, I make those balls, I'm not too sure," he added.
"Since US Open, I know nothing is impossible" - Dominic Thiem on remarkable comeback against Nick Kyrgios
Dominic Thiem himself had words of high praise for Nick Kyrgios, calling him a 'huge player'. Thiem also made a mention of Kyrgios' ability to rise to the occasion, especially when he has a crowd behind his back.
"I was already dealing with the loss," Dominic Thiem said. "First match against Nick, here on his favorite court with an amazing crowd, there are easier things to do. So that’s for sure one of the tougher challenges we have in our sport. You never know what’s coming. He’s a huge player when he’s on fire like today."
The Austrian then gave an insight into what helped him mount the comeback, claiming that his US Open triumph over Alexander Zverev taught him the importance of never giving up.
"‘Since US Open, I know impossible is nothing," Thiem added. "That match [vs Zverev] showed me at US Open that giving up is never an option. I was so close to lose it, if he breaks me in the first game of the third set it’s over. But I was fighting still and then with the break in the third set that maybe there’s a chance to turn it around."
Dominic Thiem also appreciated the largely partisan crowd at the John Cain Arena, asserting that he will miss the crowds in Melbourne who will not be able to make it into the stadiums from Saturday.
"I always prefer playing in front of a crowd, even if they’re not for me," Dominic Thiem said. "Obviously they’re for their local hero. There’s nothing wrong with that. I have to accept it and I still prefer that way more than to play in front of an empty stadium."
"Unfortunately the next match is going to be empty," he added. "I think everybody is very sad about it but it was a good last match before the lockdown."