Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, May 22, 2024


"I built a great relationship with the tournament and fans. I have so many great memories," Dominic Thiem said after falling in his Roland Garros second-round qualifying match.

Photo credit: Roland Garros Facebook

The ball barrage came at Dominic Thiem from nearly every conceivable angle.

Thiem’s noted Roland Garros career came to a close today, but he couldn’t stop sharing the moment with French Open fans.

Navratilova: Two Changes Can Help Gauff vs. Swiatek

The two-time Roland Garros runner-up lost his second-round qualifying match to Otto Virtnanen 6-2, 7-5 on court Suzanne Lenglen, but remained on court for a moving tribute ceremony.

Then a smiling Thiem spent several minutes signing all of the tennis balls and souvenir-sized balls fans thrust toward him.

Afterward, Thiem said a flood of French Open memories, spanning from his junior days through his glory days, rushed through his head like a home movie while closing his Roland Garros career on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Parting can be painful. For Thiem, the entire experience was "something emotional...but something beautiful."

"Many memories came up from all the matches I had here but also from the juniors like it was very nice," Thiem told the media in Paris. "As I said it’s not the end of the life, It’s something of course emotional, but it should be something beautiful, I think, to close a chapter of tennis.

"That’s how it was today. The crowd gave me a great farewell, very moving, very nice trophy as well. So it was nice. I’m also really happy I got to play the last two matches here on Court Suzanne Lenglen."

The former world No. 3 shared his gratitude for the fans who came out for this qualifying match today and showed their support throughout his illustrious Roland Garros career.

Fans shared the love showering Thiem with a rousing standing ovation in a stirring show of respect afterward.

“Thank you everybody who came. It was a great farewell,” Thiem told the crowd. "There was great support and atmosphere. There is a special relationship with this tournament, from the second year I played finals in the juniors.

"I built a great relationship with the tournament and fans. I have so many great memories—it's been my best results."

Of course, the now world No. 131 is not the same powerhouse player who reached back-to-back French Open finals in 2018 and 2019. A chronic right wrist injury sapped the sting from Thiem’s ferocious forehand.

Playing the grass-court event in Mallorca in 2021, Thiem suffered a tear in his right wrist that forced him to miss nine months from June 2021-March 2022. Though he rehabbed and returned to action, Thiem's forehand was never quite the fearsome weapon it was prior to his wrist tear.

The struggle to shorten points was compounded by the fact the man nicknamed Dominator for his physicality was eventually worn down by his physically-punishing style of play. 

Talking to the media today, Thiem conceded the pounding has aged him: He feels older than 30.

“I never felt like before, physically, so that’s one big thing,” Thiem said. “Especially the forehand and some other shots. "They were just almost impossible to regain. Then also some other things.

“I had a very intense career, I think. I don’t really feel like I’m only 30 or 31, I feel quite a bit older to be honest, so that was very intense. So it was a combination of things.”

Since his run to the 2020 Roland Garros quarterfinals, Thiem had suffered three straight opening-round exits in Paris.

This year, organizers opted against awarding wild cards to Thiem and fellow Grand Slam champions Simona Halep, Emma Raducanu and Caroline Wozniacki.

Still, Thiem there was honor in Thiem’s final French Open match today. In typical Thiem fashion, the Austrian went down fighting.

Virtanen rolled to a 4-1 lead and converted his third set point for a one-set lead. Thiem pushed the second set to 5-all before the big-serving Virtanen saved break point at 30-40 eventually holding for 6-5.

In a lengthy final game, Virtanen converted his third match point closing Thiem's Roland Garros career with embrace of respect.

"I felt like I had a good chance it was like 5-all and love-30 but after then he only gave me one second serve, which is kind of tough because his first serve is great," Thiem said. "Of course I would have loved to play a tiebreaker it was 40-15 [serving at 5-6] to maybe get to a tiebreaker to maybe get a chance for a third set, but that's okay."

Receiving that rousing and moving send-off from appreciative fans, Thiem concludes his Roland Garros career with a 28-10 main-draw record.

And a lifetime of wondrous memories.

Here’s hoping the USTA awards the 2020 US Open champion—New York was Thiem’s 17th and final pro title—a main draw wild card for the 2024 US Open so that Flushing Meadows fans can give him a fitting send off.


Latest News