A sharp Dimitrov countered a laboured Thiem one round after the Austrian came from two sets down to beat Nick Kyrgios at John Cain Arena on Friday.
Thiem committed 41 unforced errors paired with only 25 winners. The number 25 featured for Dimitrov, too – 25 winners, but a mere 18 unforced errors.
"I was entirely trying to focus on what I was doing, the game plan that I had," said Dimitrov.
"I think he might have actually struggled with something, which I don’t know, but I also want to give myself credit for staying focused and composed throughout the three sets. He’s an unbelievable player."
The fit Thiem has played much longer than Friday’s three hour, 21-minute thriller — winning two of his three Grand Slam matches last season that eclipsed the four-hour mark — but the victory over Kyrgios was draining stuff. He acknowledged “physical issues” surfaced without elaborating.
“I don't want to find any excuses,” said the reigning US Open champion. “But the thing also is that I'm also not a machine. I mean, sometimes I would like to be, but there are really, really bad days. As soon as you're not 100 percent there on the court on this level, then results like this come up, and that's exactly what happened today.”
Switching from night to day and without fans due to Melbourne’s newly-imposed lockdown, Thiem let slip 3-1 leads in the first two sets.