Dominic Thiem won his first tennis grand slam match in nearly two years, having returned from a serious wrist injury, but the scenes were marred when opponent Alexander Bublik allegedly directed a slur at the Austrian. Thiem has struggled for more than two years on tour with a reoccurring wrist injury, which saw him take an extended break not long after winning his maiden grand slam at the US Open.
And the popular Austrian returned in the first round at Flushing Meadows to stun the 25th seed Bublik in straight sets. Bublik was inconsistent and didn't have an answer to Thiem's game, which saw him race away with the match and earn a much-needed career win.
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However, in the second set, microphones picked up Bublik yelling out in frustration when he was staring down the barrel of a second set loss. He allegedly took aim at Thiem and other quality players returning from injury when he labelled them 'disabled'.
"I don't know if you have seen Twitter about what Bublik said in the middle of the second set," a reporter asked Thiem in his post-match press conference. "He said: 'I am sick of giving careers back to disabled people,' he said that in Russian."
Thiem questioned whether the translation was correct and when he was told it was, he hit back. "That's a tough saying. You shouldn't say that in general, out of respect. Maybe he didn't mean it in that way," Thiem said.
Thiem, adored for his personality, labelled it disrespectful. However, tennis fans were less diplomatic. Viewers rounded on Bublik and labelled the alleged act as 'disgusting' at the US Open. Nick Kyrgios weighed-in on the drama and labelled it 'horrible'.
Dominic Thiem was very polite in the way he handled the question about Bublik's comment during their R1 match at the #USOpen2023 - Bublik allegedly said, "I am sick of giving careers back to disabled people" ! pic.twitter.com/dmrzcOCasD
— दिविर जैन (@divirj04) August 28, 2023
Bublik has losses against Monfils, Wawrinka (twice) and now Thiem in 2023.
Tremendous lack of respect.https://t.co/9yCMubxFPA
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) August 28, 2023
If he really said this, this should be at least a very big fine and maybe even a ban. Totally unacceptable
— Alessio (@alessiotilocca) August 28, 2023
That’s disgusting!!! And at the end DOMI HAD WON 🤷🏻♀️
— Fadia Aliwa j2m (@thebenzgirl) August 28, 2023
How can anyone hate Thiem. Always knows what to say. Bubliks comment def came across as disrespectful but Thiem is quick to not call him out but says its possible something was lost in translation. Not assuming the worst of someone is a super kind and respectful trait.
— absolutelyEpic137 (@totallyEpic137) August 28, 2023
There is a growing stir about this comment by Alexander Bublik.
Thiem was asked about it in press. He was (understandably) sceptical that someone would say that, but called the comment, if accurately translated, "disrespectful". https://t.co/wcQ78odPoo
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) August 28, 2023
Jose Morgado pointed out that Bublik has losses to veterans Gael Monfils, Stan Wawrinka and now Thiem in 2023. After the match, Bublik withdrew from his doubles event leaving him out of the US Open tournament on the first day.
Dominic Thiem revels in first grand slam win since 2021
Thiem has struggled on tour since returning from a wrist-injury that threatened his career. However, the Austrian enjoyed his first win at a grand slam, since the Australian Open 2021, and said it was special to win it at the US Open.
"It was a very good match, basically from the first moment," Thiem said. "It's a pretty special victory, because it's the first since two-and-a-half years at Grand Slams... It's great. Especially here at the US Open with all the past and all the memories I have here."
Thiem was clearly confident during the match with Bublik struggling on his second serve. At one stage, Bublik served four double faults to hand Thiem the game. Thiem was also returning the serve right up at the service line. Thiem will now play talented American youngster Ben Shelton in the second round.
Bublik returning on the service line on break point Vs Thiem 😭😂 pic.twitter.com/eVSP6NhDa3
— Olly 🎾🇬🇧 (@Olly_Tennis_) August 28, 2023
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