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January 1, 2018

Dominic Thiem

Doha, Qatar

D. THIEM/E. Donskoy

7-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Let's start with questions in English.

Q. This is your first time here in Doha. Welcome to Qatar. Talk about your first victory of the year.
DOMINIC THIEM: I think it was a good victory because tough opponent, and first mention, the 1st of January, after a pretty long period without any matches, without any matches on the ATP tour.

After a good start, it got pretty close in the first set. I had to save two set points, I think. At the end I'm satisfied with most parts of my game.

Q. After two stellar seasons, do you feel pressure this year to make the extra step for the Grand Slam final?
DOMINIC THIEM: Of course I hope so, but there is many, many question marks about it. Because if you play a Grand Slam semifinals against Rafa, who is playing amazing, you can almost play whatever you want and you won't win.

So there's always a little bit, for sure, luck in there as well to make the next step and to make a big final or a big title. Of course I'm working hard to maybe achieve it this season.

Q. What's it like starting the year out as a top seed? Do you feel like that gives you some kind of momentum or good luck for the rest of the year?
DOMINIC THIEM: I don't really mind. I mean, it's nice to be top seeded. But here it doesn't really matter because nobody has a bye, so it doesn't matter if you are 2 or 1 seed.

The season is going to be very long, and I hope that I can have a good start here in which position I'm seeded.

Q. I was wondering if you're thinking of a change in your coaching team, bringing in a big name, which is the trend now with all the top players, where they have a former Grand Slam champion. Is that something that you are thinking of?
DOMINIC THIEM: I'm here with Gordo Blanco. I will work with him now as well. It's a good thing. He's a really good coach. He was also a very good player. So I think he can help me a lot. He knows how it feels to be on the court out there. I mean, he had himself lots of tough matches on the ATP Tour and everywhere. So I think that's a good step and I'm looking forward to a good work relationship with him.

Q. Obviously last year you had a great record on clay and everything. This year some emphasis on hard courts and maybe grass, improving on those surfaces as well?
DOMINIC THIEM: For sure last year was not good on hard courts. Two years ago it was way better. So I try to improve again or to make better results on hard court.

And the grass is very short. I mean, it was fine the last grass court season. Nobody knows what's happening there.

Especially on hard, for sure I want to play better. Even though it's a little bit easier in the beginning of the season before the clay court swing because the courts are slower and more similar to clay.

Then at the end of the year, it's going to be faster indoor, so that's a little bit more difficult for me. But still I try to improve there, but I think it's not the right time now to think what happens in eight or nine months.

Q. Now that you are off to a good start, are you looking ahead to the draw? You might run to Gasquet, Berdych. How do you read it?
DOMINIC THIEM: Actually, I only checked the first round this time. I don't know who I'm going to face on Wednesday. Normally I always know who I will face in the next round. Not this time because probably last time I saw the draw was last year.

Q. Do you feel any extra pressure going into this season because of the problems of the big four? Everybody is looking at new players to emerge and come through and claim the big titles, such as yourself. Do you feel extra pressure for the season ahead?
DOMINIC THIEM: Not really. It was last year the same situation, and then Roger and Rafa came out like rockets and dominated the season. I think it can happen the same this year. If they come back strong, it can happen the same.

So I go in to this season like I did into the last, I want to do the best for myself and also watch out that I avoid the injuries myself and don't look too much who is out or who is in. So more focus on myself.

Q. First time in Qatar and you are top seed, No. 1 in the tournament. Tell us about your impression about the stadium, the weather. We would like to know something about this, since this your the first time here in Qatar.
DOMINIC THIEM: I played here in 2014, so I know the stadium. I know the weather. And not much has changed since then.

Q. The Australian Open is very early in the season. It's just about two weeks after the preseason. Most top players get to play just one tournament. Do you feel that calendar can be tweaked a bit so you get more time to play the first Grand Slam of the year so that you can be in form? Maybe the Masters 1000 before the Australian Open. Do you think that will help the players?
DOMINIC THIEM: I think it's good how it is now. One nice thing about the Australian Open, not really in the past few years but before I think they were always surprising, guys in the semis or in the finals or in the late stages of the tournament. For sure a reason why this happens is because it's that early. So I think it's nice.

And it's also summer in Australia. I think in the summer, there's lots of people there. So it's very good timing.

Q. Do you think the top players it will help? Will it favor the top players more if you have more gap?
DOMINIC THIEM: Maybe, yes. If you have a little bit more time to be in form, to get to play very well. But I think it's good the way it is.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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