Dominic Thiem and Lucas Pouille Move Past Tricky Openers - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem and Lucas Pouille Move Past Tricky Openers

6th seed Dominic Thiem opened his Roland Garros campaign on Suzanne Lenglen Court with a 6-4 6-0 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic. Simultaneously on Philippe-Chartier Court, 16th seed Lucas Pouille battled past his fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau 7-6(6) 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Jakub Bobro

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Dominic Thiem has been red hot through the clay season, reaching finals in Barcelona and Madrid. This makes the 23 year-old Austrian one of the top contenders for the title in Paris. Thiem’s opening round against Tomic would be very closely followed a couple of years ago, but with Tomic’s performance this year, it was pretty much a forlorn conclusion. Tomic seemed to be really trying in the first set, finding odd angles and pushing Thiem to the edge of his abilities. There is a nice contrast in styles between the two, with Thiem’s power+spin game facing off.  Despite that, Thiem managed to get a break and overcame Tomic 6-4 in the first set. After that, Tomic basically gave up and perhaps “tanked” the rest of the match. Thiem was winning points easily, where Tomic could have pushed him further, but didn’t. Thiem won the match 6-4 6-0 6-2 in just 80 minutes, and will face Simone Bolelli or Nicolas Mahut in the second round.

 

“The confidence is there also. I played a very good clay-court season but everyone starts from zero here.” Said Thiem

In a far more competitive and entertaining match, 16th seed Lucas Pouille faced Julien Benneteau. Pouille arrived in Paris with question marks about his form. Early in the clay season, Pouille made the semifinals in Monte Carlo and won Budapest, but then followed two first round losses in Madrid and Rome, to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Sam Querrey respectively. Pouille was the favorite in both matches, so there were questions about his fitness and form. Julien Benneteau started a comeback at the beginning of 2016 from outside the Top 500 after missing the majority of 2015. In the past two seasons, the 35 year-old veteran clawed his way through Challengers and is now back to Top 100, currently at No. 98. In the lead-up, Benneteau opted to play French challengers instead if qualifying for the European Masters events. The Frenchman lost in quarterfinals of both Aix En Provence and Bordeaux, beating players like Lukas Rosol, Gastao Elias, or Jurgen Melzer. Benneteau retired from the Bordeaux quarterfinal two weeks ago, but definitely seemed ready for this match.

The first set was a great battle which cumulated into a tiebreak won 8-6 by Pouille. Benneteau took advantage of serving first in the second set, putting Pouille under pressure and eventually breaking him. Benneteau took the second set 6-3. The veteran took an early break over Pouille in the third, and despite a strong serve he kept it and won the third set as well, 6-4. When Benneteau got an early break in the 4th set, it seemed to be over for Pouile. Then came a small and expected dip in performace by the 35 year-old after several grueling hours on court in the 31 Celsius heat. Pouille came back into the match, won the 4th set 6-3 and didn’t let go. Pouille dictated the 5th set and was completely in control. At 3-5 0-30 in the final set on Benneteau, one of the spectators in the lower seats close to the court seemed to faint, and the match was shortly suspended. After a couple of minutes play resumed, and Benneteau looked reborn. He won 4 points in a row and went to 4-5. Pouille helped himself by strong, consistent first serves, and won the match 7-6(6) 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 after 3 hours and 21 minutes.

Pouille was quite reliant on his first serve, winning 85% of points that came after it, as Benneteau successfully returned only 54% of serves. The match between these two was very physical, full of grinding rallies. It was mostly Pouille’s serve that made the difference. Benneteau’s big weapon was his net game, weakened by the surface but still very effective. The 2014 Roland Garros Men’s Doubles champion finished 37% of points after his serve at the net, and it is a tactic that worked almost perfectly.

The rolandgarros.com Live Blog posted: For a fleeting moment I had a sinking feeling that Benneteau was going to retire there, but fear not. With tears in his eyes – and speaking in French – he tells the crowd… “I don’t have a choice, I can’t serve 210 kph, 215 kph. The only thing I know how to do is fight, and be physical. I enjoy the pleasure of playing in front of you. Frankly, what you made me experience today makes me want to come back. I’m not promising anything, I’ll do my best to be back here next year. Lucas really deserves the win. I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom and my wife”

Lucas Pouille commented: “We had a great time on the court, he’s a great player. He has worked hard to get to the top level. I believed right until the end. I was having trouble letting go but at one point things went my way and I managed to get ahead.  I hope to go as far as possible, I want to win a Grand Slam. I know it’s not easy but I will see where I can get to.”

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US Open Must Allow Entourages Of Three Or Four People, Says Thiem

The world No.3 says he is feeling good ahead of the return of professional tennis next month.

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Dominic Thiem has come out against proposals to restrict the number of coaching staff that can travel to this year’s US Open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

This year’s New York major will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history and will be implementing a series of measures to help minimise the threat posed by the virus. Part of their plan is to limit how many people a player can bring with them to the tournament. It was originally reported that only one team member per player would be allowed to travel, but it has emerged that the limit has since been extended to three.

Speaking about the limits, three-time Grand Slam finalist Thiem said the idea of only allowing one member of his team to travel with him would be a risk for some players on the Tour.

*”I do not think so. Three or four people must be allowed. It would be extremely risky to travel without your own physio. You need a local coach for this,’ Thiem told The Kronen Zeitung newspaper on Sunday.

Thiem last played a match on the ATP Tour at the Rio Open in February where he lost in the quarter-finals. However, throughout the lockdown he has still managed to maintain his match fitness by participating in numerous tournaments. In total he has played 24 matches across three different countries, including one named after him called Thiems 7.

“Right now I feel very good,” he said. “I have played a lot of exhibition games in the last two months and I am not tired at all. I really wanted to play tennis again, since my start of the year was very good.’
“During This period of confinement at home I have been crushing myself a lot in the physical aspect and already when I returned to training. I have decided to improve the backhand and the serve a little more.”

The ATP Tour will resume next month with Thiem hoping that he can continue his form generated from earlier this year. At the Australian Open he reached the final for the first time in his career before getting edged out by Novak Djokovic. Although when he returns, tournaments will not be the same as before due to the ongoing pandemic with strict safety measures and reduced crowds in place.

“When the circuit returns, the matches will be exactly the same as we had previously, but the atmosphere will be different,” he said.
“All tennis players will miss playing tournaments where many people travelled to see us every day. In New York, Paris or Melbourne there are between 60,000 and 70,000 people every day in the facilities. That previous life we ​​had will not be the same and we may have to get used to this new normal for a few years.”

Thiem is one of only four men to have already made more than $1 million in prize money so far this year on the ATP Tour.

*NOTE: Since the publication of this article quotes have been edited following a translation mix-up.

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Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.

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Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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Roger Federer Eyeing Olympic Glory At The Age Of 39 In 2021

The Swiss tennis star isn’t ready to step away from the sport just yet.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has vowed to play at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo after undergoing two surgeries on his knee.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. Since then he had twice undergone arthroscopic surgeries which is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. Federer announced shortly after having the procedure done for a second time that he will not be returning to the Tour again this year.

Despite the setbacks, the 38-year-old has vowed to return to action at the start of 2021 with Olympic glory one of his main targets. He is already a two-time Olympic medallist after winning gold in the men’s doubles back in 2008 followed by silver in the singles draw at the 2012 London Games.

“My goal is to play Tokyo 2021. It’s a wonderful city. I met my wife in my first Olympics in 2000. It’s a special event for me,” Federer said on Monday during the launch of ‘The Roger’ shoe with Swiss brand ON.
“I had two surgeries and I can’t hit at the moment, but I’m very confident I will be totally ready for 2021.
“I do miss playing in front of the fans, no doubt. Now, I think if tennis comes back we know it won’t be in a normal way where we can have full crowds yet.”

Federer will be 39 when he returns to action, but is yet to speculate as to when he may close the curtain on his record-breaking career. He is currently the second oldest man in the top 200 on the ATP Tour after Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who is 41.

Besides the Olympics, the Swiss Maestro is also setting his eye on Wimbledon where he has claimed the men’s title a record eight times. However, he hasn’t won a major title since the 2018 Australian Open. The Grass-court major has been cancelled this year for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course I miss Wimbledon, of course I would like to be there currently playing on Centre Court for a place in the second week,” he said.
“Clearly, one of my big goals, and that’s why I do recovery work every day and work so hard, and why I’m preparing for a 20-week physical preparation block this year, is because I hope to play at Wimbledon next year.”

Even though he is not playing for the rest of the year, Federer incredibly still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals due to recent changes in the rankings calculations. Due to the pandemic, players are now allowed to use their best results at 18 tournaments based on a 22-month period instead of 12 months. Something that could enable him to remain inside the top eight until the end of 2020 depending on how his rivals fair.

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