10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Opposite Fortunes for Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev on Day 1 at French Open Tennis

Dominic Thiem of Austria in action against Pablo Andujar of Spain during their first round match at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 30 May 2021. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

By Ricky Dimon

As everyone who pays even half attention to tennis remembers, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev played a five-setter in the 2020 U.S. Open final–won by Thiem from two sets down.

On Sunday at the 2021 French Open, they individually endured similar roller-coasters. This time it was Thiem who squandered a two-set advantage, while Zverev stormed back from a two-set deficit.

A two-time Roland Garros runner-up, Thiem lost at this event for the first time in his career by falling to Pablo Andujar 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Andujar, who knocked off Roger Federer in Geneva earlier this month, scored one of the biggest wins of his career after four hours and 28 minutes.

“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 percents missing…. It’s just not good enough at the moment. And, yeah, it’s very tough situation.

“It’s amazing to reach such a big goal (of a Grand Slam title), but at the same time something is different after. As I said before the tournament, it’s a big learning process. Despite the loss — which hurts so much — I still hope I can bounce back stronger than before.

“But right now I don’t know when the moment is coming.”

Zverev is still in search of his breakthrough Grand Slam moment like the one Thiem achieved at his expense last summer in New York. Although it may be unlikely to come for the German in Paris, he at least kept his hopes alive by overcoming compatriot Oscar Otte 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0.

Alexander Zverev of Germany in action against Oscar Otte of Germany during their first round match at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 30 May 2021. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT

A two-time French Open quarter-finalist, Zverev needed only two hours and 49 minutes to advance even though the match lasted five sets.

“I feel quite confident in my [physicality],” the world No. 6 explained. “From that side maybe I know I can go the distance. When I need to, I feel comfortable doing that.

“At the end of the day, he was playing great. He was doing all the right things, but still I was not playing great; I was not playing well. I knew once my ball started to go a little bit deeper, once my ball started to be a little bit heavier, he would not be able to do the things he was doing the first two sets.

“I feel like that changed a little bit in the third set. In the fourth set, once I got the break I saw that he was starting to get a little bit more tired and I tried to play as quickly as possible to not let him back in the match.”

Almost out right way, Zverev is back in the tournament.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Thiem.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.