Fourth seed Dominic Thiem faced the toughest test of the tournament favourites in the first round at Roland Garros. But the Austrian battled on, and that’s what counts.
Thiem defeated wild card and 2015 Roland Garros Boys’ Singles champion Tommy Paul 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 to remain undefeated in his openers at the year’s second Grand Slam (6-0).
“it was definitely difficult, but I didn’t expect at all an easy match,” Thiem said. “I wasn’t playing my best today, that’s for sure. But, I mean, we all could see what happens if I don’t play my best tennis. He was playing amazing then. It was very, very close. And of course the key moment of the match was the tie-break in the third set.”
One year ago in Paris, Thiem reached his first Grand Slam final, with only 11-time champion Rafael Nadal being able to stop him. The 25-year-old brings momentum to this tournament again, having captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells and defeating Nadal en route to the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell trophy without dropping a set at that ATP 500 event.
Paul, who earned his spot via a reciprocal wild card provided to the USTA, proved a difficult opponent for Thiem, showing no fear of stepping into the court and trading blows with the big-hitting World No. 4. But the difference came in the third-set tie-break, when Paul let slip a 4/0 lead with errors he had not hit throughout the match.
That was the only advantage Thiem needed, raising his already high level another notch, hitting 10 winners to just two unforced errors in the fourth set to triumph after two hours and 31 minutes.
“I didn’t feel really good. Didn’t play my best tennis. He really took advantage of that, also. He made it very tough for me out there,” Thiem said. “The most positive thing I am taking from the match today is the fourth set, because I freed myself. I played way faster, way tougher for him. I moved him around way more. That’s what I tried to build up on this fourth set. And of course, I was tough and fighting all the time and turning around. 0/4 in a breaker is nice for the confidence and for the fighting spirit.”
Thiem will next face 21-year-old Kazakh Alexander Bublik, who beat #NextGenATP German Rudolf Molleker 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1, 7-6(2) in two hours and 34 minutes. It will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. This is Bublik’s first appearance in the main draw at Roland Garros.
In other action, Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas beat home favourite Maxime Janvier 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 34 minutes
“I’m still very disappointed. He’s a very good clay-court player. Conditions were not easy. It was windy. I didn’t feel stable,” Janvier said. “I did my utmost. He was stronger than I was. I can’t say much about this.”
No. 28 seed Kyle Edmund was tied with Frenchman 7-6(1), 5-7, 6-4, 4-6, 5-5 when play was suspended due to darkness.