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Tennis News • Thiem Lands In Nadal’s Half As French Open Draw Ceremony Takes Place On Thursday

Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem of Austria meet at the net after their men’s singles quarterfinal match at the Australian Open earlier this year.

By Ricky Dimon

The 2020 French Open draw ceremony was held on Thursday, and the big story was always going to be the placement of U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem.

Well, there will be no third consecutive Thiem vs. Rafael Nadal final at Roland Garros. The third-seeded Austrian landed in the bottom half of the bracket, making a semifinal showdown with Nadal possible.

A Nadal-Thiem semi is probable, in fact, but it is by no means a slam dunk. Thiem’s draw is brutal the entire way, starting with Marin Cilic before likely featuring Reilly Opelka in round two, Casper Ruud in round three, either Felix Auger-Aliassime or Stan Wawrinka in round four, and Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals. The marquee matchup of the entire first round is also taking place in that section, as Grand Slam champions Wawrinka and Andy Murray are going head-to-head right off the bat.

Britain’s Andy Murray poses with the trophy after winning the final match against Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2019 European Open tennis tournament.

Although Nadal’s draw could get ugly in the second week, it should be simple in the early stages. The Spaniard’s nearest seeds are Dan Evans, Fabio Fognini, and John Isner. Evans is not good on clay and neither Fognini nor Isner has been playing well since tennis returned from the coronavirus hiatus. U.S. Open runner-up Alexander Zverev is a potential quarterfinal opponent for Nadal.

The bracket could not set up any better for world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has lost to Thiem in two of the last three French Opens–including in a five-set semifinal last spring. Not only did Djokovic avoid his biggest threat other than Nadal, but his entire quarter is weak. The 33-year-old Serb should have no trouble whatsoever until possibly running into either Roberto Bautista Agut or U.S. Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta in the last eight.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays Dominic Thiem of Austria during their men’s semi final match during last years French Open.

There is much more intrigue in the other section of the top half. Semifinal contenders include Daniil Medevedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov, Andrey Rublev, and Grigor Dimitrov.

In addition to Wawrinka-Murray and Thiem-Cilic, other first-rounders to watch are Bautista Agut vs. Richard Gasquet, Medvedev vs. Marton Fucsovics, Schwartzman vs. Miomir Kecmanovic, Jan-Lennard Struff vs. Frances Tiafoe, Gael Monfils vs. Alexander Bublik, and David Goffin vs. Jannik Sinner.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.