"This is a two-time finalist here," Tennis Channel commentator Steve Weissman has said after Dominic Thiem's loss to the Spaniard Pablo Andujar in 5 sets: 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 4-6. It might have been unbelievable but realism had set in for the Austrian and the Spaniard.
The beginning started so much different for both of them. It was the first two sets that Thiem dictated his shots and strategy winning the first 6-4 and the second 7-5. The beginning set Andujar's skills were starting to roll in even as he trailed 1-3.
The Spaniard was able to execute great defensive crosscourt winners as Thiem managed to keep up with the no. 68 ranked ATP guy. Andujar put forth great efforts and outsmarted Thiem after losing the first set. But the Austrian won the second proving his worth ranking of no.
4 in the world. After the second set, strange things started to happen.
Pablo Andujar started hitting the bigger, better shots and led 4-3 in the third set.
Thiem's backhand slices were becoming less effective on the determined Spaniard who kept pulling him from side to side and winning the points crosscourt.
Thiem fell in the third set at 3-6. The Spaniard showed his worth on his last success at defeating Roger Federer in the Round of 16 at the Geneva Open and thought that to be surreal a little over a week ago. Andujar was able to keep mixing up shots: crosscourts then drop shots to take the air out of Thiem's rhythm and intensity of play.
The Austrian fell 4-6 in the fourth set and just couldn't bring up his style of play and level to win the last set bowing at 4-6. It was a few weeks ago Thiem played in Lyon and lost in the opener to Cameron Norrie.
It was at Rome that the Austrian only went to the second round losing to the Italian, Lorenzo Sonego in 3 sets. But at Madrid, Thiem made it to the semifinal with Alexander Zverev, losing that round. It's not quite a lack of playing time for Thiem but exhaustion why he bagged out of the Belgrade event due to the added situation of a knee ailment.
He had commented on being just haggard due to the playing schedule and the COVID restrictions and irregularities. Dominic was also going through mental burnout from tennis and professed that "I just didn't do anything at all at first.
I just got away from it all and also watched very very little tennis." He had admitted that he's trying to get the craving for tennis and winning again, but it's obvious with the opener at Roland Garros his time hasn't come yet. There is always time and hopefully, for Thiem, it will develop again in time for Wimbledon, the next Slam of the season.