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Resurfaced: Thiem's Journey 'From Heaven To Hell' In The Roland Garros Final

  • Posted: Jun 06, 2020

Thiem’s Journey ‘From Heaven To Hell’ In The Roland Garros Final

Austrian reflects after losing second straight Roland Garros final

In just more than 24 hours, Dominic Thiem has experienced the widest range of emotions possible. On Saturday, the 25-year-old completed an epic five-set victory against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to become the first Austrian to reach multiple Grand Slam finals. But on Sunday, after winning the second set of the championship match against now 12-time champion Rafael Nadal — the only set he has won in Paris against the Spaniard — the fourth seed managed to win just two games in the final two sets combined en route to a  defeat.

“I just came from heaven to hell,” Thiem told NBC’s John McEnroe after the trophy ceremony. “But it’s tough right now because you have to beat seven good players to win this tournament and towards the end you have to beat one or two legends with 15-plus Grand Slams and if you’re not 100 per cent in every department, you’re not going to make it.”

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After dropping a set in each of his first three matches this fortnight, Thiem found his rhythm, beating former World No. 6 Gael Monfils and then Russian Karen Khachanov, who will reach a career-high World No. 9 Monday, without losing more than four games in a set. Then he raised his level even more to oust Djokovic. But Nadal still stood between the Austrian and the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

“That’s a unique and also brutal thing, I guess, in our sport, in tennis, that I won six amazing matches. I beat yesterday one of the biggest legends of our game. Not even 24 hours later, I have to step on court against another amazing legend of our game, against the best clay-court player of all time,” Thiem said. “That also shows how difficult nowadays it is to win a Grand Slam. That’s what I meant yesterday. I was feeling so happy, with such a good win, and today, of course, I lost. I failed to make my biggest dream in my tennis life come true, so I don’t feel that good like yesterday.”

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There’s no doubt that Thiem enjoyed a magnificent run at Roland Garros. His semi-final victory was a roller coaster in itself, as Thiem let slip two match points on his serve at 5-3 in the fifth set against Djokovic, before settling down to end the Serbian’s 26-match major winning streak and stop the top seed’s dream of capturing a fourth consecutive Slam.

That was the World No. 4’s third straight day of action, and his match against Nadal was his fourth in a row. But Thiem was adamant that he lost against Nadal because the legendary lefty was simply the better player.

“It was a Grand Slam final, so I didn’t really feel tired, but of course it’s going to leave some traces, all these past four days and all the long tournament,” Thiem told McEnroe. “But yeah, I played against a guy who’s won this tournament 12 times, so that’s not the reason why I lost.”


Thiem was closer than he’s ever been against Nadal at Roland Garros, trading blow for blow with the 33-year-old through two sets. In their three previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings on the Parisian terre battue, Thiem had not won more than four games in a set. But all it took Sunday was one slip — in this case a sloppy service game to open the third set — for Nadal to capitalise.

“I closed [the second set] out 7-5 and then I dropped in my game for some reason. It’s not that bad against some other guys,” Thiem said on NBC. “But Rafa stepped on me and that’s why he’s too good.”

This doesn’t take away from Thiem’s strong year, though. He won his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open, and defeated Nadal en route to claiming the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell trophy. Thiem leaves Paris in fourth place in the ATP Race To London.

“I had, until now, my best year for sure. I have won Indian Wells, Barcelona, finals again here. Even though I didn’t win the tournament, still, two years finals in a row, it’s nice. I think that I developed my game. I was also closer than last year in the finals, I have the feeling, I mean, especially in the first two sets,” Thiem said. “So I’m on the right way. And I failed today, but my goal and my dream is still to win this tournament or to win a Grand Slam tournament. I will try my best next year again.

“I gave everything I had in these two weeks. That’s all what I could do. Was not enough at the end, but I went very far.”

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Resurfaced: When Krawietz/Mies Made German Doubles History In Paris

  • Posted: Jun 06, 2020

Resurfaced: When Krawietz/Mies Made German Doubles History In Paris

Unseeded duo lifted trophy in second Grand Slam appearance

Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September. This story was originally published on 8 June 2019.

Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies enjoyed a breakthrough 2019 campaign. At the beginning of the year, they were just trying to compete more regularly on the ATP Tour. The Germans went on to win their first three tour-level titles and they qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals. Their biggest breakthrough, however, came at Roland Garros.

Krawietz and Mies became the first all-German team in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam men’s doubles title in Paris, beating Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin 6-2, 7-6(3) in the final.

Appearing in just their ninth tour-level event as a duo, the unseeded tandem claimed 81 per cent of first-serve points and did not face a break point en route to victory after 85 minutes. Krawietz and Mies join 1992 Wimbledon doubles champion Michael Stich (w/J. McEnroe) and 2010 Wimbledon and 2011 US Open doubles winner Philipp Petzschner (w/J. Melzer) as the only German winners of a men’s doubles Grand Slam crown.

“We played [for the] first time [at the] French Open and won the title. I don’t know. It sounds ridiculous,” said Krawietz. “It’s an incredible feeling. Of course, we were nervous for the final. But before the tournament, if somebody said, we [would] play the quarter-finals… we [would have] said, ‘Okay, we are fine with this’. When you are in the quarter-finals, you want to win, but match-by-match. [I have] no words for this. Incredible.”

In the first meeting between an all-French pair and an all-German pair in a Grand Slam men’s doubles final, Krawietz and Mies raced out to a 4-0 lead and dominated net exchanges to take the first set. Chardy and Martin raised their level in the second set, reaching a tie-break shortly after saving a break point in a marathon game at 5-5.

But Krawietz and Mies would not be denied, earning back-to-back points on return at 3/4 before sealing the title as Mies fired a forehand volley off the court. In celebration, both players quickly collapsed onto the clay of Court Philippe-Chatrier in unison.

Krawietz and Mies were made to work for their second tour-level title of the season, having also beaten last year’s champion Nicolas Mahut, who lifted the trophy with Pierre-Hugues Herbert, in the second round and 2018 finalists Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in the third round. The German pairing picked up their maiden ATP Tour crown in February, without dropping a set, at the New York Open (d. Gonzalez/Qureshi).

“Every match was special,” said Krawietz. “The first round we play French guys [Guinard and Rinderknech]… third round was Marach/Pavic, a pretty good team, fourth seeded. We said, ‘Okay, we have nothing to lose’ and maybe this was a very big step for us. After this match, we were very confident.

“Also the round before, I have to say, actually, Mahut/Melzer, we very much respect these two guys because they won six Grand Slams in doubles [between them]. I think the second and third-round [wins were] very important for us and to have a lot of confidence for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.”

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Krawietz and Mies have shown impressive form throughout the clay-court season, reaching the Hungarian Open semi-finals and winning ATP Challenger Tour titles in Marbella and Heilbronn. Krawietz also won ATP Challenger Tour events in Budapest (w/Polasek) and Aix en Provence (w/Melzer). Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich were the last team to win Challenger and Grand Slam titles in the same season, capturing trophies at the Australian Open and Ramat Hasharon Challenger in 2008.

“You want to make that step from going from Challengers to ATP Tour level,” said Mies “That was our goal when we started last year. It’s crazy that we made it that quick in that short period of time… The crucial moment was Wimbledon last year where we used the chance of qualifying and we went to the third round.

“We lost with match points against Bryan/Sock who went on to win the tournament. But that was a moment where we realized we had the level to beat all the top guys… This is just unbelievable. We hope to stay on the Tour for a long time, and hopefully stay healthy and play 10 more years, play until 40, who knows?”

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

The Germans are just the second team in the Open Era to win the men’s doubles title on their Roland Garros debut, joining 1989 champions Jim Grabb and Patrick McEnroe. Five players in the Open Era have lifted the trophy on their first appearance in the Roland Garros men’s doubles draw.

Chardy and Martin were aiming to become the sixth different all-French pair in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam men’s doubles title. The home favourites, who lifted trophies in Marseille and Estoril earlier this year, were also bidding to follow in the footsteps of Herbert and Mahut, who became the third all-French duo in the Open Era to win the clay-court Grand Slam championship last year.

Chardy and Martin eliminated four seeded teams en route to the final, including top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo and third seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t play our best match today, but we hate losing… We played excellent matches during the entire fortnight,” said Chardy. “It’s our first Grand Slam final, so that’s the positive side of it. It gives us a sour taste in our mouth and the desire to get the trophy next time.”

“I’m extremely disappointed tonight,” said Martin. “But at the same time, it makes me want to continue working to lift the trophy next time.”

Krawietz and Mies receive 2000 ATP Doubles Ranking points and split €580,000 in prize money. Chardy and Martin gain 1200 points and share €290,000.

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Novak Djokovic: US Open coronavirus protocols 'extreme'

  • Posted: Jun 06, 2020

World number one Novak Djokovic has called the coronavirus safety protocols, planned in order for the US Open to take place, “extreme”.

The hard-court Grand Slam tournament is scheduled to start on 31 August at Flushing Meadows in New York.

“We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week,” said Djokovic.

“Also, we could bring one person to the club which is really impossible.”

The 33-year-old, speaking to Prva TV in his native Serbia, added: “I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”

World number two Rafael Nadal said on Thursday he currently has little desire to travel to New York to defend his US Open title.

The Spaniard does not think tournaments should restart until every single player is able to travel freely and safely.

No tour events will be staged until the end of July – at the very earliest.

Djokovic, a three-time US Open winner, added: “I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis, there were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the US Open due in late August, but it is not known whether it will be held.

“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme.”

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From Rain To A Locker Room Dash: How Agassi Completed His Career Grand Slam

  • Posted: Jun 06, 2020

From Rain To A Locker Room Dash: How Agassi Completed His Career Grand Slam relives the 1999 Roland Garros final with exclusive insight from Andre Agassi’s coach, Brad Gilbert

Andre Agassi completed his career Grand Slam at 1999 Roland Garros, one of the most memorable tournaments of his career. However, the American nearly didn’t play the tournament.

The week before the event, Agassi retired from a match in Dusseldorf due to a shoulder injury. He was ready to withdraw from Roland Garros and Wimbledon, according to coach Brad Gilbert.

“He’s like, ‘Dude, pull me out. Pull me out of Wimbledon too, and we’ll start in Washington,’” Gilbert told “I was like, ‘No, we’ll go back, do a few days of rehab, and see what happens. He was like, ‘No.’ I talked him into not going back home to Vegas.

“Maybe the best coaching I ever did was just to get him to go [to Paris]. Then to complete that journey the way it ended, that was what the whole tournament was about: surviving.”

Following a Saturday arrival, Agassi only got one pre-tournament practice. He rallied from a set down in his opener against Franco Squillari, two sets to one down in the second round against Arnaud Clement, and 4-6, 1-4 down against Carlos Moya in the Round of 16.

But Agassi’s greatest magic trick came in the championship match against World No. 100 Andrei Medvedev. Eight years on from playing in the 1991 Roland Garros final, Agassi was the heavy favourite. But Medvedev had won four clay-court ATP Masters 1000 titles, and he stormed through the first set 6-1.

After Agassi held for 1-0 in the second set, the raindrops were heavy enough to force the players off the court.

“I was just like, ‘S*&!, I have to get down there and see if I could find out what was going on and see if I can tell him something to make a difference,’” Gilbert recalled. “My first inkling was it didn’t look like it was that ominous of weather, so that’s why I ran pretty good. I was like, ‘S*&!, maybe it won’t be that long of a delay.’ From the stands it was a pretty good run. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to get on my wheels and get down there.’”

Gilbert says the players were not even in the locker room for two minutes. When the coach arrived after his mad dash, he found Agassi slumped in his chair in the corner of the locker room. According to Inside Tennis, Agassi recalled the moment last May: “It was so quiet – I thought all was lost. I looked up and asked, ‘Really Brad, you’re going to wait for this moment to finally shut up?’ And everything I had to say could be heard in the locker room by the only guy I had to beat.

“Then Brad went to a locker and slammed it so hard that it broke. He said, ‘What the hell do you want me to say? You’re the one guy on court who can do something special. You just need to be better than one person. Are you actually asking me to tell you that you’re not better than this person?’”

Gilbert wanted Agassi to keep things simple and play to win. Although Medvedev had climbed as high as World No. 4, Gilbert knew Agassi would control the outcome if he found his rhythm.

“I don’t win or lose the match,” Gilbert said of the moment. “I’m trying to help him as much as I can.

“You’re not playing a Muster, you’re not playing a Kafelnikov. It was a great opportunity, but he was just getting outplayed.”

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Medvedev won the second set, taking a 6-1, 6-2 lead. The crucial moment came at 4-4 in the third. Up 30/15 on his serve, Agassi hit two straight double faults. He then missed his first serve on break point.

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh S*&!, don’t double.’ I’d never seen him double fault twice in a row,” Gilbert said. “He hit a second serve right on the line, came in on the second ball, and he had to hit an unbelievable shoestring volley. He held… and the match dramatically changed from that point.”

Agassi triumphed 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, turning to his camp with his arms in the air. The American’s emotions flowed.

“It was a magical moment, especially because of the uncertainty literally on Friday before the tournament,” Gilbert said. “It was just a great journey, and it’s a great memory thinking about it. The whole tournament was a battle.”

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

That night, Agassi, Gilbert, trainer Gil Reyes, John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase, Mansour Bahrami and Henri Leconte were among a small group that went to an Italian restaurant to celebrate. Agassi had the trophy with him at dinner.

McEnroe got a call from former World No. 1 Bjorn Borg, who wanted to congratulate Agassi.

“He had spoken to Borg, and I don’t know how much he had ever spoken to Borg before,” Gilbert said. “I was thinking instantly, ‘Dude, this guy did the [Roland Garros-Wimbledon] double three times. Wouldn’t it be sweet? He’s looking at me and he’s already like, ‘Coach, you’re already thinking putting it in my head?”

Agassi lost in the 1999 Wimbledon final against Pete Sampras, but he won the 1999 US Open, finished that season atop the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings, and then lifted the 2000 Australian Open trophy to complete one of the best stretches of his career.

Agassi’s run at Roland Garros, an event he didn’t want to play, started it all.

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Flashback: Gaudio's Comeback Of Epic Proportions

  • Posted: Jun 06, 2020

Flashback: Gaudio’s Comeback Of Epic Proportions

All-Argentine clash in 2004 Roland Garros final produces epic comeback

After finally coming out on top in a lengthy rally at 4-4 in the third set of the 2004 Roland Garros final, all Gaston Gaudio could do was laugh.

Gaudio, then No. 44 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, was on the verge of losing one of the most one-sided men’s Grand Slam singles finals in the Open Era. He trailed third-seeded fellow Argentine Guillermo Coria 0-6, 3-6, 4-4, with the odds-on tournament favourite bullying him around the court in their baseline exchanges. The fans inside Court Philippe Chatrier were so unable to get involved that they did the Mexican wave during one changeover to add variety into what seemed an inevitable outcome.

But Gaudio won another point, and then another. He broke Coria and stole the third set to the shock of the crowd. More than two hours later, in a match that eventually resembled psychodrama more than sport, the unseeded Argentine saved two championship points and completed a stunning 0-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 8-6 victory for his lone Grand Slam crown.

”Losing the French Open final with two match points isn’t easy against anyone,” Gaudio said. “Imagine losing against me.”

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The 22-year-old Coria seemed destined to win his first major championship after posting a 22-1 record on clay that year, including an ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo. But Coria’s body abandoned him midway through the third set and he began to cramp in his right leg. When his body wasn’t betraying him, his mind was. Nerves led to him squandering a 4-2 lead in the fifth set and two opportunities to serve out the match, including a pair of championship points at 6-5.

Two games later, the 25-year-old Gaudio cracked a backhand winner to seal the win and tossed his racquet sky-high. He arrived in Paris having never reached the quarter-finals at a major championship and became the fourth-lowest ranked man in the Open Era to capture a Grand Slam singles crown.

Gaudio 2004 Roland Garros trophy

”I don’t know what to say. It’s too much. This is like a movie for me,” Gaudio said. “Thanks to all of you, the crowd. Thanks to you, I managed to fight more and come back. I touched Heaven.”

Coria never recovered from the loss. Service woes and injuries all but took him out of the game two years later and he officially retired in 2009. Meanwhile, Gaudio suffered a similarly rapid decline. Although he achieved his career-high ranking of No. 5 the following year, he never reached another Grand Slam quarter-final after his dream run in Paris.

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