Sunday, September 26

Andújar gives the bell and leaves Thiem out in the first round


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I recognized this newspaper a few days ago. After winning the US Open, his first Grand Slam, he felt empty. He also did not contribute to his return as champion knee discomfort that forced him to not participate in several tournaments. But Dominic Thiem He wanted to get to Roland Garros, where he moves wonderfully and in which he was a finalist on two occasions, in 2018 and 2019.

However, the Austrian has not been able to overcome his first meeting, riddled by a Pablo Andújar on the upside after beating Roger Federer in Geneva. Thiem, four in the world and the best placed racket as an alternative to Rafael Nadal on the ground, won in the first two sets, but got stuck in errors and with a very offensive strategy from the Spanish, who was right by subtracting the rival so close to the line serve that kept him from even thinking about the next move. It falls in its premiere in a game of four hours and 28 minutes for 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 and 6-4.

From this clay season, Thiem arrived with many unknowns, without titles or victories of special relevance, he only played at the Mutua Madrid Open, felled by Alexander Zverev in the semifinals (6-3 and 6-4), two games in the Masters 1,000 de Roma (lost against Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-7 (5) and 7-6 (5)) and joined Lyon to gain some more shooting, but did not pass the premiere against Cameron Norrie (6-3 and 6-2).

Nadal, towards fourteen and eternity

He also slips at the first change in Paris, a tournament that he loves and where his tennis does a lot of damage. It was semi-finalist in 2016 and 2017; on the first occasion he fell to Djokovic and on the second, to Nadal, to gauge the only ones who could stop him. He went a step further in 2019 and 2020, but the Spaniard knows these tracks wonderfully and gave him two championship lessons in the final. In 2020 it was Diego Schwartzman who deprived him of a fifth consecutive semifinal in a match as tough as the one he has starred in against Andújar, as the Argentine surpassed him in a match of five hours and 8 minutes by 7-6 (1), 5- 7, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5) and 6-2.

Big day for Andújar, another one, who knelt as if he did not believe it, but he is already having the makings to believe what he wants. Of successes already when many begin to look at retirement, he celebrated the feat with the local spectators in perfect French. The Cuenca, 35 years old, 68 in the world, had never won a match in which he lost the first two sets. But yesterday he forgot everything and everyone to go, step by step, cowering his rival, who was not just anybody.

The Austrian became entangled in errors, some not forced and others caused by the warrior tennis of Cuenca, a stone from the bottom, fresh legs despite the DNI and confidence to strengthen his game and manipulate the opponent’s strategy.

And he had one more weapon hidden in memory. Because just a few days ago he signed what, until that moment, seemed the best victory of his life. He faced Roger Federer – who today makes his debut in Paris – in the Geneva tournament, and although it is true that the Swiss landed on earth and on the circuit with just three games in more than a year, Andújar had his best day. «This victory [ante Thiem] It is something incredible, I cannot detract from it, it would be somewhat selfish, but Federer is a myth». A precious chapter in his career to which he added one more yesterday. “I’m a guy who has never been on the front page, in the big lights, these two victories are like Santa Claus came here. It has given me two victories that I never thought would happen in my career, “he admitted in French. The Spaniard, who reached the eighth in Paris in 2015, had been saying goodbye to the tournament for three years in a row on his first day and acknowledges that he will have to get down to earth to face the second round.

The Roland Garros box is left, at the bottom, without the only player who had won a Grand Slam. At the top, however, where Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic circulate, there are 59 titles (Cilic won the US Open in 2014).

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