French Open: Unusual circumstances for Thiem

Of course, the corona virus and its early defeat at the Masters 1000 tournament in Rome have not changed the favorite role of the twelve-time Paris winner Rafael Nadal. In his “living room” in Roland Garros and in “best of five” mode on clay, the Spaniard is still the number one favorite even at the age of 34. The Serbian Novak Djokovic with his 31 wins from 32 matches this season and Thiem, who lost to Djokovic this year in the final of the Australian Open, are considered to be his toughest challengers.

It is undisputed that the French Open will be different this time for several reasons. Of course, as in New York, everything is under the sign of the coronavirus pandemic and the “bubble”: The organizers, however, let significantly more players on their system than last time the US Open. In contrast to the US Open, there is a qualification, also the mixed competition, the junior and legend competitions are held.

AP / LaPresse / Alfredo Falcone

After twelve victories in Paris so far, Rafael Nadal is the big hunted again this year

However, there were the first coronavirus cases among the players before the first stroke in qualifying. Nevertheless, according to the current status, up to 5,000 viewers per day should be allowed. In Roland Garros, unlike the US Open, there will be no “ghost matches”, unless the coronavirus crisis worsens dramatically over the next few days.

New appointment, new balls

The season of the year is different than usual at the French Open. Instead of the traditional date at the end of May / beginning of June and in the Paris spring, the world’s largest clay court tennis tournament takes place four months later. “I can remember, in the 2016 semifinals against Djokovic it was eleven degrees. It won’t get much colder either, ”Thiem recently said on the ORF program“ Sport am Sonntag ”.

However, Thiem sees a major difference in the new Roland Garros balls. They are now produced by Wilson (formerly Babolat). “That will be the bigger difference.” During the preparation in Vienna, he tested the balls.

“The Babolat were actually my favorite balls, they were nice and fast, perfect for my game, perfect for Nadal’s game too.” The new balls will be slower, more “open”. “That will certainly change the results a bit,” predicted Thiem. The surface will also be slower than usual because of the lower temperatures.

Tailwind after US Open

Due to the US Open triumph, Thiem also lost a lot of pressure. The new looseness could make him even more dangerous in Paris. “It can be very good for my game. I hope that I will take advantage of the tailwind I gave myself with the US Open title in Paris, ”said Thiem, who failed in the 2018 and 2019 French Open finals due to Nadal.


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