February 8, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
D. THIEM/M. Kukushkin
7-6, 6-2, 6-3
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How did you feel out there for your first match on Rod Laver Arena?
DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, pretty good, actually. Just needed some time to adjust. Also it was interesting because I never faced him, which is not happening that often anymore, as I've almost faced everybody on tour already. He played well. The first set was very, very close. Two or three set points, I think, and was a long first set. And then that was the key point.
Well, I needed some time to get used to the fast and quick conditions, but in general it was a great first round of a Grand Slam.
Q. I know you mentioned out on court at the end of the match that the courts are definitely playing a lot quicker than previous years. Now, we know that you are someone who does love to hit the cover off the ball and really play with a really fast pace. How do you feel as a result? Do you feel the faster court plays to your strengths a little bit more this year?
DOMINIC THIEM: Not really. I mean, I like to have time, so the fast court takes it away a little bit for me, so that's not perfect.
But I have to get used to it anyway. Still, I have the feeling that it's one of the faster tournaments I've played in recent years, but it's like that; that's tennis. We have to get used to different conditions every year and almost every week, so this year is faster, and I'm actually happy how I adjusted to it.
Q. Was the atmosphere out there good, as well, with the crowds? Does it feel like it's back to being what a Grand Slam was sort of like before all of this?
DOMINIC THIEM: Honestly it's super nice that there is a crowd, and it was a nice atmosphere today, but of course you cannot compare it to the last years here in Australia. It was crazy packed and crazy atmosphere, and just because the Centre Court -- or the courts are not allowed to be full, so it's obviously different.
But it's also way better than New York, for example, where there were no people at all. I think it's a step in the right direction.
Q. I just want to ask about playing in the pandemic, as well. Do you sort of feel like you have finally adjusted to the fact that there are fewer people in the crowd or is it still something you're getting accustomed to?
DOMINIC THIEM: First, it was super weird to play without a crowd. I think everybody had to get used to it. Nobody was ever used to it before.
And then we had in Roland Garros we had a thousand people, Vienna we had a thousand people, then in London again zero people and then I played the exhibition in Adelaide where it was 4,000 people, and that was something I had to get used to again with all the cheering and somehow -- obviously you play for the people on the TV, but it's still something different. If there are so many people watching you, you want to do it even better.
Here in Australia it's something in between. The stadium is far from packed but still people, so it's nice. You also want to play well for them.
Q. I'm wondering, because your preparation for this tournament is not a typical Grand Slam preparation, right, did you feel a little bit of nerves on the court or any doubts about your form early on just because of that different type of preparation?
DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, definitely I felt nerves because it was a long time until the slam, more than three weeks from when we arrived to Adelaide. It was not easy. It was amazing that we could practice, but three weeks is a long time, and if you're unlucky or especially me, if I practice somehow too many days in a row, I start to play worse again instead of better. So I really had to find the right balance.
ATP Cup was also tough because I played Berrettini who was playing so good and so fast, so there was no real great preparation, then I played Benoit who had to retire after one set, so I didn't really know where I'm standing at. And I also faced an opponent today who is tough to play, especially in these conditions. I'm happy how I did it and how I came through.
Q. I was wondering what your thoughts are about not having lines-people and what you think of future of that would be?
DOMINIC THIEM: Honestly I like it without lines-people. No offense at all, but there are just no mistakes happening, and that's really good in my opinion because if the electronic calls out, the ball is out, so there's no room for mistakes at all. I think it's a step in the right direction.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports