Thiem runs out of steam

PARIS, May 30

Two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem was knocked out in the first round of the French Open by Spanish journeyman Pablo Andujar 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4 in the first major upset of the claycourt Grand Slam today. It first seemed that Andujar’s win against 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in Geneva earlier this month would count for nothing. But Austrian Thiem’s game began to unravel after a dominant start on court Philippe Chatrier. Thiem, who reached the final in Paris in 2018 and 2019, had never lost in the opening round at Roland Garros, but that prospect grew as Andujar went for his shots and unsettled his 27-year-old opponent.

Thiem broke back after conceding a break in the first game of the decider, but Andujar kept on piling up the pressure with deep strokes and broke again for 3-2. The 35-year-old, ranked 68th in the world, then held serve throughout to claim victory after nearly four-and-a-half hours after Thiem made a total of 66 unforced errors.

Thiem, who took a break to ‘reset his game’ earlier this season and also battled injuries, entered the tournament short of confidence and the clash with Andujar showed he had yet to rediscover his touch even though he had reached the semifinals at the Madrid Masters this month. “I was not struggling at all with my motivation but the game was just not there today,” he said. “Like all the shots are missing power. They are not accurate enough.”

Andujar, on the other hand, was on a roll after beating Federer on the Geneva clay. “I believed in myself because I played well (against Federer) two weeks ago. Usually being drawn against Thiem is a bad draw,” the Spaniard said. “Winning today against a player like him is like a gift, even if he has not been at his best recently, because I’m 35 and I don’t know how long I’m going to be playing for. Beating Roger was an even bigger gift. I feel like Father Christmas came to my home.”

Osaka wins, Kerber falls

World No. 2 Naomi Osaka beat Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig 6-4 7-6(4) in their second career meeting and first since 2015 to move into the second round.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, however, was stunned by Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina 6-2 6-4. Two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova moved past Greet Minnen with a 6-7(3) 7-6(5) 6-1 victory. — Reuters

Osaka fined, warned of expulsion from French Open

PARIS: Naomi Osaka was fined $15,000 by tennis’ Grand Slam organisers today and warned of possible ejection from the French Open and suspension from future Majors after the world No. 2 skipped a news conference after her opening win at Roland Garros. The 23-year-old, a four-time Grand Slam winner, cited the impact on players’ mental well-being for her decision ahead of the claycourt Major not to hold news conferences, saying the nature of questions from journalists is like “kicking a person when they are down”. Osaka started her French Open campaign with a win over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig and then boycotted the post-match news conference, although she did hold a court-side interview immediately after the game. The board of the four Grand Slams said in a statement today that the French Open organisers had asked Osaka to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to resolve the matter. Reuters

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