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Andujar Shocks Thiem in Roland Garros First Round

Pablo Andujar fought back from a two-set deficit to defeat US Open champion Dominic Thiem in the French Open first round. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

Dominic Thiem misfired a forehand and threw his hands in the air like a man recoiling from repeated miscues.

A resilient Pablo Andujar rallied from a two-set deficit to shove Thiem right out of this Roland Garros in a shocking 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 first-round upset.

Afterward, Thiem conceded he felt as if he was suffering an identity crisis on court—his game and movement weren’t there when he needed them most.

“I was not struggling at all with my motivation, but the game was just not there today,” Thiem said. “Like all the shots are missing power. They are not accurate enough. I’m moving not well enough, so everything in my game there are some percent missing…

“Shots were there in practice and it got also better in Madrid and Rome. But Lyon and here, I mean, the shots and all how I moved and everything was just not the real me, I would say, or my version who is able to play for big titles. It’s just not good enough at the moment. And, yeah, it’s very tough situation.”

On match point, Andujar hit a diagonal forehand to close a four hour, 28-minute comeback conquest then dropped to his knees in exhilaration capping his first career Top 5-victory in his 12th attempt.

It was a fitting celebration for Andujar’s 150th career victory. Ultimately, Andujar was sharper down the stretch and exuded more fire and desire amid fifth-set pressure.

“It is very special to win here in Roland Garros, in Philippe Chatrier,” Andujar said. “Such an emotional win for me, being two sets to Love down against an amazing player. So, yeah, it is very special.”

Dominic Thiem squandered a two-set lead for just the second time in his career. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

In the space of a couple of weeks, the 35-year-old Spaniard has knocked off a pair of Grand Slam champions: 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and US Open champion Thiem.

All this from a man who has withstood three elbow surgeries, failed to survive the French Open first round in five of his last six appearances yet refused to relinquish his tennis dreams and competed with warrior spirit today.

Twelve days ago, Andujar surged through the final four games spoiling Federer’s clay-court comeback 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach his second quarterfinal of the season at the Geneva Open. That was Andujar’s first Top 10 win since he defeated David Ferrer in the 2015 Barcelona semifinals.

A fired-up Andujar followed with today’s impressive encore. It’s the first time Andujar fought back from two sets down to win a match and just the second time Thiem surrended a two-set lead.

“It gave me more confidence in myself, trying to believe in myself,” Andujar said. “I think that victory make me still believe even if I was two sets to Love down.

“So I tried to keep focused. I knew I could win that set, that third set, and everything was going to change. I thought, I really believed, and that probably maybe in a big percentage, small percentage, I don’t know how much, but of course there is a percentage of that win gave me that confidence to believe in this win.”

The first round was the final stop for two-time Roland Garros runner-up Thiem, who suffered his first opening-round exit in eight appearances in Paris.

Pablo Andujar (L) of Spain celebrates winning against Dominic Thiem (R) of Austria during their first round match at the French Open. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

The major malaise that has plagued Thiem since he edged Alexander Zverev to capture his maiden major at the US Open last September continues. Thiem, who was 47-1 when winning the first two sets at a Slam with his lone loss coming to Juan Martin del Potro at the 2017 US Open, lacked his trademark intensity and closing power and scattered 61 unforced errors enduring his second straight opening-round loss after falling to Cameron Norrie in Lyon.

While Andujar advances to a second-round match vs. either Radu Albot or Federico Delbonis, Thiem will try to recharge ahead of next month’s Wimbledon, where he’s fallen in the first round three times in six appearances, including his last two trips to SW19.