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Qui gagnera Roland Garros en 2024 ? La résurrection de Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Dominic Thiem (3/6 6/1 7/6) in the second round of the Madrid Open on April, Saturday 29.

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Currently 93th in the ATP Rankings, Dominic Thiem didn’t end up in an easy draw at the master 1000 in Madrid. Starting from the second round, he had to face the fourth seed : Stefanos Tsitsipas. Runner-up in the Barcelona Open, the latter entered the court with confidence for the first match of the night session. The ninth encounter between the two players seemed like a semi-final rather than a second round.

Dominic Thiem, flawless during the first set

The match began with a string of love games: 1/1. Dominic Thiem took the lead thanks to his backhand quality. While Stefanos Tsitsipas’ forehand accelerations took time away from him, his backhands gave him back : 2/1. The Greek was impatient during the rallies. Two unforced errors, followed by a great counter drop shot from Dominic Thiem, lead to the first break points of the match. The first one was saved by a forehand volley. The second one was offered by an obvious backhand unforced error. Dominic Thiem lead 3/1 ; he had to serve to confirm his advantage. Disturbed by Stefanos Tsitsipas’ deep returns, he gave out three beak points. The first two were town away by the Greek ; the last one was saved by a smash from Dominic Thiem. He kept the lead : 4/1. The remaining games went by without any player having an opportunity on the opponent’s serve. Stefanos Tsitsipas multiplied forehand accelerations that he concluded at the net. Dominic Thiem showed his defensive abilities.

During the first set, the opportunities were scarce. The Austrian took advantage of a moment of weakness from his opponent. Lacking first serves, Stefanos Tsitsipas made it easier for Dominic Thiem. The latter kept his advantage thanks to the variety of his shots : sliced and flat backhands, rises to the net or topspin forehands. The Greek didn’t manage to take his break back : he lost each of the one-handed backhand duels.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas, on a roll during the second set

Stefanos Tsitsipas started the second set with a love game. Dominic Thiem didn’t begin this set in the best way. Caught short by his opponent’s returns, he was unable to organize himself at the restart. His first double fault of the match was enough to give two break points to Stefanos Tsitsipas. He converted the second one to lead 2/0. The Greek made a string of first serves to win another love game : 3/0. Dominic Thiem underwent the assaults of Stefanos Tsitsipas, in full confidence. He fought back with a dazzling crossed-court forehand – which enabled him to win a first game in this set : 3/1. The fifth player of the world didn’t let place for the rallies to start during his games of serve. During each point, he came to the net after a few shots : 4/1. Dominic Thiem hung on ; he cheered himself up. Stefanos Tsitsipas,inspired, played a thrilling tennis. A perfectly disguised dropshot gave him double break points. The Austrian hit a forehand that landed in the ally while the court was wide-open : 5/1. The fifth player of the world finished the set at the net.

Stefanos Tsitsipas let no chance to his opponent during the set. He had a 100% percentage of first serves. Impressively efficient during his games of serve, he imprinted huge pressure on his opponent when he was returning. Dominic Thiem, despite a few strokes of genius, was stunned by Stefanos Tsitsipas’ relentless attacks.

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An unforgivable last set

Both players rose their level of play during the deciding set. Dominic Thiem won an important first game of serve : 1/0. Stefanos Tsitsipas easily matched the score : 1/1. The Austrian changed his game patterns. He forced himself to play a constructed-forward tennis. An astonishing semi-volley allowed him to save a break point. Stefanos Tsitsipas won his game of serve without any resistance from the other side of the net. He hit each of his balls with a feet inside the court :2/2. Dominic Thiem kept on rising to the net while Stefanos Tsitsipas took seconds to win his games of serve : 4/4. The Austrian won his first love game of the set : 5/4. His will to clinch victory was tangible. While he managed to return the dazzling serves of his opponent, unforced errors prevented him from getting real opportunities. Stefanos Tsitsipas made a serve-and-volley to match the score : 5/5. Then, a game of all dangers for Dominic Thiem started off. A string of three unforced errors gave a golden opportunity to the Greek. During a game that lasted more than ten minutes, the Austrian saved five break points. The two players returned blow for blow. One after the other, they came to the net and demonstrated their speed. The Austrian miraculously made it out of this difficult situation : 6/5. Stefanos Tsitsipas was authoritarian during his last game of serve. This encounter ended up in a tiebreak.

The finalist of the Barcelona Open felt the pressure of the match ending. He started the tiebreak with a stroke too long and a double fault. Dominic Thiem lead 2/0. The latter didn’t keep his mini-break for long. Impatient to win the point, he rushed a backhand down the line : 3/3. Stefanos Tsitsipas lead for the first time in the tiebreak after an unreturned serve. He then made a backhand passing shot put back into the net by Dominic Thiem : 5/3, the Greek was two points away from victory. The former world number three kept the score tied : 5/4. Stefanos Tsitsipas fought back with a soft sliced volley – that gave him two match points. This thrilling encounter ended with a forehand in the net from Dominic Thiem.

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The deciding set was an opportunity to reminisce about old encounters between the two rivals. At Indian Wells, Beijing or the ATP Finals, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem played unforgivable matches. Once again, they pushed each other up throughout the match until the climax of the third set. Stefanos Tsitsipas, carried by his unbelievable string of first serves, played an inspiring tennis. His numerous forehand attacks, followed at the net, made Dominic Thiem suffer. The latter, mishandled during the second set, forced himself to innovate. He fought back his love for harsh battles from the back of the court. As soon as there was an opportunity, he played forward. Even though this strategy didn’t get him the win this time, Dominic Thiem showed that he isn’t out of ideas and heart.

Stefanos Tsitsipas against Dominic Thiem : watch the best moments of this thrilling match

The end of the clay court season could be a big opportunity for the end of Dominic Thiem’s 2023 season. He should have two tournaments to earn more confidence before the start of Roland Garros. Winning a few rounds during the second Grand Slam of the year would enable him to win precious points for the remaining months of the year. They will be essential if he hopes to play at the most prestigious events on the ATP-Tour.

Marnie Abbou

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