Paris, May 30 (EFE).- Spain’s Pablo Andujar on Sunday put his stamp on the opening day of the French Open, mounting a stunning comeback from being down by two sets to eliminate Austria’s 4th-seeded Dominic Thiem, a finalist in the 2018 and 2019 editions of the tennis tourney, 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 and 6-4 in four hours and 28 minutes.
Just a few weeks after having defeated Switzerland’s Roger Federer in the tourney, the 68th-ranked Spaniard once again knocked out one of the world’s “top 10” men’s singles players and will now go up against the winner of the duel between Argentina’s Federico Delbonis and Macedonia’s Radu Albot.
Although Thiem is not going through the best period in his career at this point, Andujar’s win was well-deserved, a hard-fought battle on the central court at Roland Garros against one of the world’s best tennis players.
It was Thiem’s worst performance ever at Roland Garros, where last year he made it to the quarterfinals after two consecutive finals showings and two other semifinals appearances.
This is the first time in his career that Andujar has made a comeback win after being down two sets, and it was his sixth victory against a top 10 player, his first against a member of the top 5 and his fifth consecutive triumph in five contests.
“This is a present that tennis is giving me,” he said after the duel, attributing his win to faith.
“I’m the first one to be surprised, but I believed right up to the end, and finally it’s something very special. I’m 35, I don’t know how much time I have left,” he said, referring to his career.
Andujar had been knocked out of the tourney in the first round in the past three years in Paris.
“I believed in victory because two weeks ago, against Federer, I also played very well and that was another gift, perhaps even bigger,” Andujar said after the match.
Andujar’s best performance at a Grand Slam event prior to this year was when he made it to the quarterfinals in the US Open in 2019.
Meanwhile, on the first day of play, Spain’s Pablo Carreño, No. 12 in the world, made it through the first round by defeating Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos 6-3, 6-4 and 6-3 and will now go up against young Frenchman Enzo Couacaud, No. 177 in the world and invited to take part by French Open organizers this year.
And Spain’s 11th-seeded Roberto Bautista overcame his countryman Mario Vilella to get through the first round 6-4, 6-4 and 6-2 and will now face off against Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen, who got through the first round by knocking off Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann 6-1, 6-3, 4-6 and 6-2.
Argentina’s Guido Pella triumphed over both the ghosts of the past and his rival – Colombia’s Daniel Galan – 6-3, 7-6 (4) and 7-5, the second set being particularly tough. Pella’s countryman Juan Ignacio Londero, however, fell to Chile’s Christian Garin for the first time in their three contests so far 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6) and 6-2.
Pella will now have to deal with US player Marcos Giron, No. 82 in the world, the survivor of the duel against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, No. 16, who won the first two sets 6-2 and 6-4 but then battled to a 5-7 result and was down by 0-3 when he chose to resign and withdraw.
And Germany’s Alexander Zverev – the 6th seed, who came to the French Open after winning the Paris Masters 1,000 – initially went down by two sets to his countryman Oscar Otte, but then battled back for a 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 win to move into the second round.
His next rival will be Russia’s Romain Safiullin, who defeated Spain’s Carlos Taberner 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-0 and 6-2.
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, the 5th seed, had less trouble in his Roland Garros debut, defeating France’s Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (6), 6-3 and 6-1, and he will now face off against the winner of the Sebastian Korda (US) and Pedro Martinez (Spain) match.