Reigning US Open champion Dominic Thiem showed no signs of a hangover from his title triumph at Flushing Meadows as he began his Roland Garros campaign with an impressive 6-4 6-3 6-3 win over Marin Cilic.
World No. 3 Thiem, beaten by Rafa Nadal in the last two French Open finals, was handed a tough first round against the Croatian former U.S. Open champion, but was straight back to his best under the roof on Court Phillipe Chatrier.
Cilic, who before Thiem’s Flushing Meadows win this month was the most recent first-time Grand Slam champion courtesy of his New York title in 2014, made things difficult for Thiem with some aggressive tennis but his crucial mistakes gave Thiem an easy win in the end.
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THANK YOU! First of all big thanks to my family, to my team and my partners which have helped me throughout the years to achieve this big dream! Also thanks to all the fans and supporters around the world! I'm super happy and proud to come back to Europe now with this trophy in my pocket!
Thiem broke the Cilic serve at 4-4 in the first set and then came from 0-40 down to take the opening set. Using his blistering single-handed backhand to damaging effect on the heavy claycourt, Thiem dominated the second set.
The 27-year-old dipped at the start to trail 0-2 in the third set but switched on the afterburners to win five games in a row.
He had to save a breakpoint when he served at 5-3 and claimed his fourth win in four meetings with Cilic. He will face American Jock Sock in the second round.
Thiem on Roger Federer
Thiem also spoke with great admiration and respect for Roger Federer as he said “no other player can be compared” to the record 20-time Grand Slam champion. The Austrian captured his maiden Grand Slam title two weeks after coming down from 2 sets down in the US Open final to beat German Alexander Zverev.
“Roger congratulated me on my US Open win, I promise, I will do everything so that Roger (FEDERER) remains No.1.”
“No other player can be compared to Roger, he‘s one of a kind, a much more aesthetic and elegant player than I am,” Thiem said.
Thiem’s Path to the Final
He has lost to 12-time champion Rafael Nadal in the final of the last two French Open’s, is heavily fancied to go till the final rounds in this year’s edition. He now faces a potential tricky clash with American big-hitter Jack Sock in the second.
If the US Open champion was to reach the semi-final, he could meet his French Open foe and ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal, who has prevented him from winning the event in successive years, before a likely matchup with Novak Djokovic, with the Serb unlikely to face a single Grand Slam winner prior to the final.