Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem were among the leading ATP stars on the court during Sunday's Roland Garros action, alongside Stefanos Tsitsipas. Two good friends both had to play a five-setter at the start of the season's second Major, with Thiem squandering two sets to love advantage and Zverev overcoming two sets to love deficit to survive!
Struggling to find the form in 2021, Thiem had to dig deep in the opening round today, facing Pablo Andujar and losing ground after set number two to hit the exit door and extend a miserable season. Practicing with Dominic on Saturday, Alexander was surprised when he saw that result, stepping on the court thinking about it and losing the opening two sets against a qualifier Oscar Otte.
Settling into a nice rhythm following three wins in Paris, Oscar overpowered Alexander before the better-ranked German shifted into a higher gear to claim 18 of the last 22 games and the final 11 to prevail 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 in two hours and 49 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.
Alexander is now 16-7 in five-setters in a career and 7-0 at Roland Garros, staying composed and believing in his abilities despite having no room for errors from set number three. Zverev scored only one break in the opening two sets, struggling to find the rhythm and falling behind before finding his strokes in the rest of the encounter and avoiding Thiem's fate.
Alexander lost serve four times and produced eight breaks, firing 50 winners and 32 unforced errors to leave the rival behind and advance into the second round.
Alexander Zverev spoke about Dominic Thiem's Roland Garros loss.
"To be very honest, I think Dominic Thiem's loss did have a little impact on me at the beginning of the match, because yes, you try to focus on yourself, you try to not pay too much attention, but you do know the draw and who is where.
You know that Dominic is one of the best clay-court players, especially here in Paris, and one of the most formidable opponents you can have. Suddenly, he is out, and it does affect me a bit. Maybe that was part of why I was a bit nervous initially and why I made a slow start.
Thiem and I were on the practice court yesterday, and the level was incredibly high. Strangely, he lost today, but matches and practices are different. You still need the matches to get into the tournament. Oscar already had three encounters, and I think that's a big difference.
I feel pretty confident in my physical shape. From that side, maybe I know I can go the distance. I don't always need to, but when I need to, I feel comfortable doing that. All in all, I'm happy to be through. At the end of the day, that's all that matters for me right now," Alexander Zverev said.