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January 3, 2018

Dominic Thiem

Doha, Qatar

D. THIEM/A. Bedene

7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Talk about the match and your perception of it.
DOMINIC THIEM: I'm pleased today. I'm through in straight sets. It was a tough match, but I expected it and had two tough matches which I both won in straight sets. So I think that's a perfect start into the new year.

If you have to fight a lot, if you have to suffer a bit, I think it's very good like this. You get a lot of tough situations already in the first matches, and that's why I'm happy with the start.

Q. You possibly could be the only seed left, Richard Gasquet could be your opponent. Do you think that's just like what happens at the beginning of the year? Everybody is looking for their footing?
DOMINIC THIEM: I think for sure. I mean, everybody has a little bit lack of matches. For everybody it was probably one and a half, two months since the last match.

And some guys like Carreno Busta, they were unlucky. I think he missed five match points or something. So that's beginning of the season, I guess.

Monfils, he's unseeded but he's an amazing player. So I don't really count him as unseeded.

But yeah, so maybe I'm the only seeded left tomorrow.

Q. Do you watch a lot of tennis matches through the year or do you do it more at the start of the year when everybody is coming back? Have you watched any of the other players play, especially the younger players? And if you have, what do you think?
DOMINIC THIEM: I love watching tennis. I watch it a lot. So there is nobody I don't know. And if a young guy comes up, for most of the people surprising, it's not really for me because I know all of them. And I think it's important that the little bit older players watch the younger ones because we can face them any tournament and then it's nice to know them a little bit already from watching them.

Q. You had a great year last year. You beat Rafa, you beat Djokovic. Then at the US Open, you had the tough match against del Potro. What lessons have you taken from that match, especially in the hard court tennis? Are you also looking at specific skills which you can improve in the faster surfaces?
DOMINIC THIEM: I recovered from that match. It's not in my mind anymore. I hope that I've learned some things from it because it was a tough loss, yes. And for sure I was thinking about it quite a lot after.

And there are for sure many things I have to improve. I don't want all my career at the end of the season I mess up, like I did the last two years. So I have to change something. I have to improve something. But it's still far to go until the fast surfaces are coming.

So now I focus on Australian Open, and then on clay, and then after that I can think about it.

Q. Just adding on to that, are you going to incorporate something into your net game? Do you want to approach the net more so that you can finish points quickly, play more accuracy of game even on the hard courts?
DOMINIC THIEM: Yes. I practice volleys a lot, but it's not that easy to come in nowadays. All the players are very fast. They play really good passing shots. So I improve my volley, but still I have to watch out when I come in. And maybe I come in a little bit more often, but I'm not going to come in every short play on the volley.

Q. In 2014, you participated in Qatar ExxonMobil Open as a qualifier, but now you are participating as a top seed. Tell us the difference between these two experiences.
DOMINIC THIEM: When I played here in 2014, I think I was 140 in the world. So it was amazing for me to qualify. I was the happiest guy on the planet because I qualified and it was the start of my career basically. Everything started here.

And now, of course, I'm experienced. I know how the tour works. I've played probably 350 matches since then. And it was nice back then because I was unexperienced. I was really young and fearless. And a lot of things change. But of course, it's better to be up in the ranking and top seed then have to pay the quallies.

Q. Tell us something about your play, the schedule for the year 2018. In 2017, I believe that you held back a little bit, too many tournaments. And even then you pulled out of one or two. How have you managed to schedule this year?
DOMINIC THIEM: I think the last year's schedule was fine. I was feeling good until the end of the season. I was just playing bad, but has nothing to do with a too busy schedule.

This year it's going to be similar, I think. So only I will go to South America and I will probably not go to Asia that long at the end of the year. But everything else stays pretty similar.

Q. Who do you consider as your strongest opponent?
DOMINIC THIEM: In general or -- I think now it's against Rafa on clay court, it's unbelievable. But I think the best ever I played was Djokovic, when he was in his best form, one and a half, two years ago. It was, I think, almost impossible to beat him. Maybe the best tennis somebody ever played.

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