French Open 2021: Dominic Thiem beaten by Pablo Andujar in the first round

Pablo Andujar lost the first two sets against Dominic Thiem

Double finalist Dominic Thiem suffered a shock loss in the first round of Roland Garros as Pablo Andujar produced a superb comeback against the world number four.

Spaniard Andujar followed Austrian US Open winner Thiem by straight sets, but triumphed 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4 in a thrilling match at Roland Garros.

German world number six Alexander Zverev had to fight after two sets to beat his compatriot Oscar Otte.

Zverev, 24, won 3-6 3-6 6-2 6-2 6-0.

Elsewhere in Sunday’s men’s singles draw, Greece’s fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 6-1 to advance to the second round, where he will face either American Sebastian Korda or Spaniard Pedro Martinez.

And the British number one Dan Evans fell to a 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-4 loss by Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

‘Not all was the real me’

Thiem’s ​​loss leaves the bottom half of the men’s singles draw particularly open as Novak Djokovic’s “big three”, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are all in the other half.

After losing to Nadal in the 2018 and 2019 finals in Paris, Thiem won his first major title at the US Open last September, but took two months off the tour earlier this year to have a “little reset” in because of the physical and emotional impact of winning a Grand Slam.

Before his opening at Roland Garros, he had won just five matches in the past three months.

“I wasn’t struggling with my motivation at all, but the game just wasn’t there,” Thiem said.

“All the shots lack power. They aren’t precise enough. I don’t move well enough. Everything in my game is missing percentages.”

“Not all of the real me, nor the version of me who is capable of playing for big titles.”

World number 68 Andujar, 35, turned pro in 2003 and, although he beat Roger Federer in Geneva earlier in May, it was his first victory over an ATP top five player.

After snapping Thiem’s ​​serve in Game 8 of the third set to end the Austrian’s hopes of sealing a comfortable victory, Andujar kicked off a memorable comeback taking a 4-1 lead in the fourth.

Neither player could hold the serve early in the deciding set, but Andujar consolidated another break to take a 4-2 lead and a stunned Thiem couldn’t find an answer.

“It’s a very special moment because I’m 35 and I don’t know how long I’m going to play,” said Andujar, who will play Radu Albot or Federico Delbonis in the second round.

“It was very difficult, in the third set he wasn’t that strong. I didn’t think I was in my best form, but conviction was the key to winning today.”

Zverev avoids the exit in opening

Zverev, who won his second Madrid Open title earlier this month before losing to Nadal in the Italian Open quarter-final, was able to avoid suffering the same fate as Thiem .

But he was forced to work hard to do so against the 27-year-old qualifier Otte, ranked 152nd in the world.

Zverev responded immediately after Otte made the first serve break in the match to lead 4-3 – but he failed to maintain serve once more as his compatriot continued to take a first set surprise.

Zverev’s task was made even more difficult when Otte won four straight games to close the second set impressively.

But the momentum changed as Zverev took a 5-1 lead as he prepared to comfortably win the third set – and back-to-back breaks in the fourth set up a decider.

Until then, a deflated Otte could offer no resistance as Zverev – who will go on to face Russian Roman Safiullin or Spaniard Carlos Taberner – took victory in the fifth.

The final stages of the match were played without spectators due to the French curfew of 9 p.m. local time (8 p.m. BST) under coronavirus restrictions.

Tsitsipas overcomes a slow start

Tsitsipas arrived at Roland Garros fresh from his Lyon Open victory on Briton Cameron Norrie a week earlier.

But there was no freshness in the start he made on Sunday against Chardy in a short Philippe Chatrier void – again, because of local coronavirus restrictions.

First, he had to save a set point in the first set. And he came back to win the tie-break after being 1-4.

From there, however, the Greek was much more professional taking the following sets comfortably, securing the victory in just over two hours.

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About Guillermo Russell

Guillermo Russell

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