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Why Lyon Was Pivotal In Thiem's Biggest Clay Breakthrough

  • Posted: May 19, 2020

Why Lyon Was Pivotal In Thiem’s Biggest Clay Breakthrough

Relive Thiem’s victory at the 2018 Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon

Dominic Thiem arrived in France for the 2018 Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon having lost back-to-back matches on clay for the first time since 2016. Little did he know the ATP 250 tournament would serve as a launching pad to his biggest breakthrough on the surface.

After cruising through his opening match against Roberto Carballes Baena in 71 minutes, Thiem appeared poised to turn his fortunes around. But the Austrian was made to work hard.

On Thursday evening, Thiem’s quarter-final against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez was suspended at one set apiece due to darkness. There were no guarantees for the top seed; not only did he need to find a way to battle past the Spaniard, but he’d have to quickly recover for a semi-final later Friday.

Luckily for Thiem, he navigated through his third set against Garcia-Lopez without many complications, finishing off a 6-7(4), 7-6(0), 6-4 victory to set a clash in the last four against Dusan Lajovic. Although that match only lasted one hour and 58 minutes, Thiem was again under pressure, needing three sets to win. He triumphed 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

“I was just staying focussed,” Thiem said of his mindset after losing the second set. “I had the big goal in front of me: to reach the final. That was the key. That’s why I stayed very calm.”

In about 24 hours, Thiem played four hours and 55 minutes of tennis, and he still had to face home favourite Gilles Simon, the former World No. 6, in the final. But again, it was his mindset that proved key. He wasn’t thinking about the past, but remaining in the present.

“It’s my dream to win the title here,” Thiem said after beating Lajovic. “I’m one step away.”

All of the tennis appeared to have taken its toll on Thiem when Simon cruised to a set-and-a-break lead in Saturday’s championship match. The Austrian faced two break points to fall behind even further, but Thiem dug into the clay and battled. Once he turned the tide, the big-swinging baseliner had all the momentum.

After two hours and 25 minutes, Thiem captured his 10th ATP Tour trophy, defeating the Frenchman 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-1.

“I’m super happy. I fought really, really hard for this title,” Thiem said. “I’m really happy that I won the title. It’s always something very special. It’s my tenth title, which is a great number.”

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That wasn’t the only milestone for Thiem, as the Austrian also claimed his 200th tour-level match win by defeating Simon. The triumph marked Thiem’s eighth tour-level clay-court title, and it came just weeks after ending Rafael Nadal’s 50-set clay-court winning streak — a record on a single surface — in Rome.

“I really enjoyed being here,” Thiem said. “France has a very special place in my heart. I’ve always played great tennis here and I hope I will always play great tennis here… it was a great atmosphere even though I played against a home guy. Still, it was really nice, and I really enjoyed it.”

On paper, it might seem like a lot of tennis to play in the days leading into a Grand Slam, but Thiem did not see it that way.

“I feel physically completely fine,” Thiem said upon his arrival in Paris. “The victory of the tournament helped for sure. I’m feeling great with a lot of confidence. Physically great, mentally great. It was the right decision to go there.”

Thiem went on to reach his first Grand Slam final, where he fell short against Rafael Nadal, who won his 11th Roland Garros title.

Fans will remember Thiem’s Paris run from his 2018 clay season, but it is safe to say the confidence he earned in Lyon paid dividends.

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Geneva: Where Stan Is The Man & Zverev Stands Tall

  • Posted: May 19, 2020

Geneva: Where Stan Is The Man & Zverev Stands Tall

Learn more about the Geneva Open, an ATP 250 event

Staged at the Tennis Club de Genève at the Parc des Eaux-Vives, the oldest and largest tennis club in Switzerland, the Geneva Open is one of three Swiss events on the ATP Tour.

The tournament would have been held this week if not for the Tour suspension due to coronavirus. looks at five things to know about the ATP 250-level tournament.

1) A Star Studded Honour Roll
Alexander Zverev is the latest star to add his name to an impressive honour roll at the ATP 250 event. Previous champions include Bjorn Borg (1981), Mats Wilander (1982-’83), Henri Leconte (1986), Thomas Muster (1991) and Stan Wawrinka (2016-’17).

Wilander also features in the list of doubles champions. Other doubles titlists include Sergio Casal/Emilio Sanchez (1985), Sergi Bruguera/Marc Rosset (1991), Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah (2015), Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau (2017) and Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic (2018-’19).

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2) Swiss Success
Since the tournament began in 1980, four editions of the event have been won by Swiss players. Claudio Mezzadri became the first home champion in 1987, capturing the only ATP Tour singles title of his career with a straight-sets victory against Tomas Smid. Two years later, Marc Rosset joined the club, beating Guillermo Perez-Roldan to capture his maiden ATP Tour trophy.

In 2016, Wawrinka beat Marin Cilic to become the third Swiss player to take the title in Geneva. The three-time Grand Slam champion returned the following year to become only the second player in tournament history to win back-to-back titles in the city, following in the footsteps of 1982-’83 champion Wilander.


3) 2015 Return
After a 14-year absence, Geneva returned to the ATP Tour in 2015. The event featured Top 10 stars Wawrinka and Marin Cilic.

Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci ended a three-year title drought, beating Marcos Baghdatis, Denis Istomin, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Santiago Giraldo and Joao Sousa to take the trophy. It is the most recent ATP Tour trophy of four-time tour-level titlist Bellucci’s career.

4) An Epic 2019 Final
From match point saves to rain delays, last year’s final was packed with drama.

One month after failing to convert match point against Nicolas Jarry at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Zverev saved two match points against the Chilean to take the Geneva trophy 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(8).

Zverev arrived in Geneva with a 6-8 record in his previous eight tournaments, searching for form. The top seed also survived three-set matches against Hugo Dellien and Federico Delbonis en route to his first title since the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals.

5) Final Preparation For Roland Garros
Held the week before Roland Garros, alongside the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon, the Geneva Open provides ATP Tour stars with a final opportunity to prepare for the clay-court Grand Slam championship.

Since the tournament returned to the ATP Tour in 2015, Geneva winners have followed their title runs with quarter-final or better performances at Roland Garros on three occasions. Two-time winner Wawrinka reached the semi-finals in 2016 and finished as runner-up in 2017, while 2019 champion Zverev reached the quarter-finals in Paris last year.

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