In Triumph Of Consistency, Dominic Thiem’s 2019 French Open Loss Had A Lesson, Too - UBITENNIS
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In Triumph Of Consistency, Dominic Thiem’s 2019 French Open Loss Had A Lesson, Too

There is a lesson to be learned for Dominic Thiem despite another impressive Roland Garros run in 2019.

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Dominic Thiem (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

Dominic Thiem made it count at Roland Garros for the second consecutive year, what was there to know more beyond his winning a set from Rafael Nadal in the final?

 

It has now been twice in two years in a row that Dominic Thiem has had to return emptyhanded from the French Open on the second Sunday. That both of his losses have come against Rafael Nadal make them starker than what they would have been against any other player. However, there are several positives to be taken from this result of the Austrian – even beyond him managing to win a set off the Spaniard in the 2019 final unlike his straight-set defeat in 2018.

Thiem’s biggest success coming off the Major was that he put himself out there as a contender for the title. The 25-year-old’s run was apropos of defying pre-tournament consensus of Nadal vying against Novak Djokovic for the Coupe des Mousquetaires. Thus, even while Nadal’s win kept the Big Three’s dominance’s niche protected from the younger generations thanks to Thiem, cracks in this supremacy have become palpable. Just as unmistakeable it is to see how Thiem has separated himself from the rest of his peers on the circuit – both among his age-group and the younger pros.

With the ‘NextGen’ frenzy mushrooming, and each juvenile millennial’s performance being examined for finesse and fallacies after every match, Thiem’s French Open sojourn was a reality check of its own. In that it reiterated how men’s tennis needed to leave its youngsters alone for them to set their own rhythm and pace when it came to tackling the bigger titles.

“Even though I didn’t win the tournament, still, two years finals in a row, it’s nice. I think that I developed my game,” Thiem acknowledged in his post-final press conference in Paris. “I was also closer than last year in the finals, I have the feeling, I mean, especially in the first two sets. So, I’m on the right way. And I failed today, but my goal and my dream (are) still to win this tournament or to win a Grand Slam tournament. I will try my best next year again.”

But after having said so, in a roundabout way, Thiem admitted it was tougher for him to play against Nadal merely a day after he had beaten Djokovic in Saturday’s semi-final, on 8th June. “That’s a unique and also brutal thing, I guess, in our sport, in tennis, that I won six amazing matches. I beat yesterday one of the biggest legends of our game. Not even 24 hours later, I have to step on court against another amazing legend of our game, against the best clay-court player of all time. That also shows how difficult nowadays it is to win a Grand Slam,” Thiem observed.

Thiem’s comments cannot be perceived as excuses about his inability to carry his momentum from the semi-final to the final. Nonetheless, they also do not fit well for a potential Major champion. This, despite the tournament organisers short-changing the two-time Roland Garros finalist once too many in the course of the tournament.

These occurrences, especially the way his semi-final against Djokovic was truncated partway on Friday, 7th June, should have been Thiem’s catalysts to impose himself – and his stature – as a player whose interests were also prioritised by the event organisers. Thiem succinctly verbalised his irritation in the way his press conference was shifted to a smaller room to accommodate Serena Williams’. He was unable to do the same – with his actions on the court – when they mattered the most in the last couple of days in the tournament.

Inconvenient scheduling notwithstanding, had Thiem found it in himself to either determinedly win his semi-final in four sets, or jostle Nadal in their final in a firmer manner, the learning curve’s scope would have been entirely different. As it would have been demonstrative.

That the Big Three for all their pre-eminence in all these years have let their games be their voice. Not only to speak up for them when their routes in tournaments are easy enough but also when their paths are the toughest, at their worst.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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