Dominic Thiem has confirmed he has been given a coronavirus vaccine and will return to action in Abu Dhabi next month with the objective of playing in the 2022 Australian Open.

The 2020 US Open champion has been out of action since suffering a wrist injury at the Mallorca Championships in June.

Thiem on Tuesday revealed he has made good progress with his recovery and will play in the World Tennis Championship, an exhibition event that will be staged from December 16-18.

The 28-year-old had stated he wanted to wait for a Novavax jab, but was urged by Austrian minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection Wolfgang Muckstein to take an alternative vaccine as his preferred choice would not be available until next year.

Thiem says he has now been vaccinated and is relishing getting back on court as he eyes a grand slam return in Melbourne in January.

"I am very happy to announce that my recovery is going well. The MRI I did today showed that my wrist injury has improved significantly," Thiem tweeted on Tuesday.

"A couple of weeks ago I started playing with soft balls and was able to switch to normal tennis balls during yesterday's practice session. My team and I strongly believe that I'll be ready to make my comeback later this year.

"I'll be returning to competition in December and will be playing the MWTC 2021 in Abu Dhabi – with the objective to return to the Tour for the 2022 Australian Open.

"Needless to say that the vaccine is needed to play both events, and in my case I have already been vaccinated. I saw recently some news about this and I had to make it very clear that I would get vaccinated. Hopefully the next time things won't be taken this far [sic] as I saw last week..."

Rafael Nadal is also set to return from injury in Abu Dhabi.

Last year's US Open champion Dominic Thiem has revealed he will not require surgery on his injured wrist.

The Austrian former world number three has not played since June when he sustained the injury at the Mallorca Championships.

The 28-year-old announced in August, when he confirmed he would not defend his title at Flushing Meadows, that he would not return this season due to a detachment of the posterior sheath of the ulnar side of the right wrist.

Surgery had not been ruled out for Thiem who had been recovering since a setback in August but the Austrian revealed on Twitter that he would not go under the knife.

"I had a very important thing today," Thiem said. "I was in Belgium to decide if I need surgery on my wrist or not and luckily I have very, very good news. I won’t need the surgery.

"It’s really stable and it’s looking good, my wrist. The next week I have to make it more flexible and strengthen my wrist, do everything to prepare to slowly start playing tennis again.

"I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been a pretty long time without a racquet and I honestly miss it."

Thiem holds a 9-9 record for the 2021 season, with his ranking slipping to eighth.

Novak Djokovic was "playing for history" and suffered from nerves in his US Open final defeat to Daniil Medvedev, according to previous champion Dominic Thiem, who backed the 34-year-old to return "stronger than ever" in 2022.

Medvedev prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four grand slams in a single year, beating him 6-4 6-4 6-4 in Sunday's thrilling showpiece.

Djokovic was seen in tears during the third set as his hopes of adding the US Open to his run of wins at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year slipped away.

But Thiem tipped Djokovic to bounce back from the disappointment of defeat and return in 2022 even stronger.

"One unbelievable goal slipped out of his hands yesterday," Thiem told Stats Perform.

 

"I expect him to be as strong as ever in 2022. I think after he won in Roland Garros, everybody was only talking about the calendar slam – first about the golden slam, and then about the calendar slam.

"He [Djokovic] was under pressure. Nobody can feel that or anything like that because of it being the calendar slam.

"I can feel it in a smaller way, probably from last year's final and from some other matches. And at some points it's just getting to you. And so, I really felt for him as well towards the end of the match.

"So, it can happen that it also makes him even stronger next year when all these talks and all this pressure is not that big anymore."

Thiem, who missed the tournament with a wrist injury that will rule him out until 2022, believes nerves were a factor in Djokovic's defeat but agreed with Medvedev's assessment of the Serbian as the greatest of all time – though he could not set him apart from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

"For me, there are three GOATs in the game, and each of them has achieved something very unique," Thiem said of the trio locked on 20 major titles each.

"So it's still the same for me as it was before. The three of them are the best in the history to me.

"And I'm only super happy to be in the same era with them and to be able to compete with them. Hopefully many more times next year again."

Dominic Thiem believes Emma Raducanu's sensational US Open triumph might be the "greatest breakthrough performance of all time".

Raducanu, 18, overcame fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to cement her place in history.

Her triumph meant she became the first qualifier – male or female – in tennis history to win a grand slam final.

She did not lose a set in 10 matches across qualifying and the main draw, becoming the first player since Serena Williams in 2014 to win the US Open without dropping a single set.

Raducanu – whose first grand slam appearance only came at Wimbledon in June – was ranked 150th in the world before the US Open, but her stunning win in New York has seen her break into the top 30.

Thiem, who missed the men's tournament with a wrist injury, was in awe of Raducanu's stunning run at Flushing Meadows and says he can scarcely recall a more impressive breakthrough in the sport.  

"There were some other great achievements in the past but with Emma Raducanu, starting in the qualifiers and then playing such great tennis and making this incredible path, it's definitely, maybe, the greatest breakthrough performance of all time," he exclusively told Stats Perform.

 

"It's an incredible journey if you look at the stats. She didn't lose one set the whole tournament. She came from qualifying and she didn't even play one tie-break. That's simply amazing and something that was probably never witnessed before.

"And also the way she plays, her technique, the way she moves, somehow she brought it up to a new level for the whole game and it was great to see.

"But as well, her opponent, it was so fun to watch her. I was excited for it, watching every single point on TV. And it was great not only for women's tennis, but for all sports in general."

Nick Kyrgios, John Isner and Reilly Opelka have been named by Team World captain John McEnroe as his final three picks for the Laver Cup.

The trio join Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Diego Schwartzman for the team event which runs from September 24-26 at TD Garden in Boston.

Laver Cup newcomer Opelka rose to a career-high world number 23 ranking en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto and defeated world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will play for Bjorn Borg's Team Europe.

Isner, who has featured for Team World since the inaugural event in 2017, reached the semi-finals in Toronto and claimed his 16th ATP Tour title in Atlanta at the start of August.

He described the Laver Cup as "a highlight of my year", adding: "To be on a team with guys we're normally competing against is so different and so much fun. We come together so well as a group, the chemistry is awesome and it's such a great environment to be part of."

Australian firebrand Kyrgios is a striking inclusion in Team World's roster, while Team Europe will be without their big three: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Federer and Dominic Thiem were expected to take part in this year's event, though both were forced to withdraw with injuries.

However, Borg's men still boast six of the world's top 11. World number two Daniil Medvedev leads the line-up, with Tsitsipas and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Alexander Zverev for company.

Casper Ruud, who collected a 14th win in his last 15 completed matches on tour when he beat Opelka on Wednesday, will feature, while Andrey Rublev and Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini complete the six-man team.

Team Europe have landed the title in each of the three editions of the tournament so far, with Prague, Chicago and Geneva having served as hosts.

Defending US Open champion Dominic Thiem will miss this year's tournament with a wrist injury that will rule him out until 2022.

The 27-year-old suffered the setback at the Mallorca Open in June and also withdrew from Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.

World number six Thiem won his maiden grand slam at Flushing Meadows last year with victory over Alexander Zverev in a five-set thriller, but he will not get the chance to defend his title in New York.

"Having spent a week training on court, I still felt pain in my wrist and I knew that it was not 100 per cent," Thiem posted in a statement on his Twitter page on Wednesday.

"I went to see my doctors again and we have decided to follow a conservative treatment, giving the injury more time to recover.

"I'm very disappointed not to be able to defend my US Open title and to miss the rest of the season.

"But I know this is what I have to do. I have a long career ahead of me, so I will only come back once I'm fully recovered and in good shape to compete."

Thiem has a record of nine wins and nine losses this season, with his best result coming at the Madrid Open in May when reaching the semi-finals.

Twenty-time grand slam winner Roger Federer last week pulled out of the US Open, which runs from August 30 until September 12, after undergoing knee surgery.

Dominic Thiem has been ruled out of Wimbledon after tests on a wrist injury and faces a race to be fully fit in time to defend his US Open title.

The world number five retired from his match against Adrian Mannarino in the Mallorca Championships on Tuesday, when 5-2 up in the opening set.

Checks on the wrist by a specialist in Barcelona have shown Thiem needs time away from tennis, meaning Wimbledon is off the table along with tournaments in Hamburg and Gstaad in July.

According to a medical bulletin issued on Thiem's social media accounts, it will be five weeks before he can remove a wrist splint and begin to step up his recovery.

With the US Open beginning on August 30, that does not leave a lot of time for Thiem to recover physical fitness and find his best tennis. He would have been seeded number four at Wimbledon.

The medical bulletin read: "Tests found that there is a 'detachment of the posterior sheath of the ulnar side of the right wrist', an injury that will not allow him to compete in the circuit for several weeks.

"Thiem will wear a wrist splint for five weeks before beginning a progressive process of specific, functional rehabilitation to regain mobility as well as muscle strength in his wrist and ultimately return to training on court."

Thiem, who had already decided against playing at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, appears to be hoping his lay-off is not as long as the experts have forecast.

He will undergo MRI scans and tests as his recovery progresses, and the 27-year-old Austrian said: "I'm going to do everything the doctors say in order to recover as quickly as possible.

"They've informed me that I might be out for several weeks, but I will do my best to be back on court soon.

"I'm really sorry for pulling out of the upcoming three tournaments I had in my calendar: Wimbledon, Hamburg and Gstaad.

"They are very important tournaments for me. I appreciate all the support from the fans in these difficult moments – I'm determined to come back stronger."

Thiem's absence is another blow for Wimbledon, with Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka having already announced they would not be playing the tournament.

Dominic Thiem will seek the advice of a specialist in Barcelona after suffering an injury scare ahead of Wimbledon next week.

Number two seed Thiem retired due to a wrist injury when 5-2 up in the opening set against Adrian Mannarino in the Mallorca Championships on Tuesday.

An MRI conducted at a Mallorca hospital was inconclusive, so the US Open champion will now undergo further tests.

In an update on Wednesday, Thiem wrote on social media: "Yesterday during the match I had a problem with my wrist.

"I went immediately to do an MRI at the hospital in Palma de Mallorca. The results weren't that clear and I have decided to go to Barcelona to check with a specialist.

"I hope I can get the results and a clear diagnosis in the next days."

The ATP 250 event continued without him in Mallorca, as Roberto Bautista Agut moved into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 7-5 triumph over Italian Stefano Travaglia.

More Spanish success on home soil arrived as Pablo Carreno Busta won 6-4 6-4 against Jiri Vesely.

In the doubles, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Gomez-Herrera saw off top seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos to reach the last four in that competition.

Djokovic appears to be enjoying himself as he continues to prepare for Wimbledon, saying: "This was a huge win for us, beating one of the best doubles players in the world after losing the first set.

"We are having a lot of fun on the court. I thought we played well even though we lost the first set."

There was a major upset at the Viking International in Eastbourne, meanwhile, with number one seed Gael Monfils suffering a shock last-16 defeat to Australia's Max Purcell – ranked number 283 in the world.

Purcell, who is only in the tournament as a lucky loser, claimed a huge 6-4 5-7 6-4 win in a battle lasting over two hours.

Monfils fired down 16 aces and fought back after being within two points of defeat in the second set but was ultimately beaten and has not made an ATP quarter-final since February 2020.

"It feels unbelievable," said Purcell. "I thought I'd come out and have a go. 

"I've struggled to get into any singles events over the past nine months and primarily played doubles, so to get on a run here, on my favourite surface, is great."

Purcell will take on Andreas Seppi – a comfortable winner over Emil Ruusuvuori – in the last eight.

While Monfils crashed out, there was less drama for the second and third seeds. 

Alex de Minaur won 6-3 6-4 against home hope Liam Broady, while Lorenzo Sonego was a 6-4 6-2 victor in his contest with John Millman.

Feliciano Lopez reached the milestone of 500 ATP Tour wins with a comeback victory over Karen Khachanov at the Mallorca Championships.

Lopez, who turns 40 in September, prevailed 4-6 6-2 6-4 against the sixth seed.

He is the 10th active player to reach 500 wins, after Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Richard Gasquet, Fernando Verdasco, Marin Cilic, Stan Wawrinka and Tommy Robredo.

"More than the 500 wins, the important thing to me is the chance to keep playing in these kinds of tournaments and to keep being competitive," Lopez told ATPTour.com.

"I didn’t expect to be able to play at the level I am on the ATP Tour at 40 years of age, which I will be in September."

Spanish veteran Lopez would have expected to be taking on Dominic Thiem next, but the world number five retired due to a wrist injury when 5-2 to the good in the opening set against Adrian Mannarino.

"It's nice for me to be in the quarter-finals, but winning this way is not so cool. I really like Dominic, he's such a nice guy and I hope he will be feeling better soon," Mannarino said. "I hope it is not so serious, especially right before Wimbledon."

Elsewhere on the Balearic island, top seed Daniil Medvedev breezed past Corentin Moutet 6-4 6-2, while Casper Ruud defeated Tennys Sandgren in straight sets.

At the Viking International in Eastbourne, there were mixed fortunes for Lopez's countrymen Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Fokina, seeded sixth, saw off Mikael Ymer 7-5 6-1, but number seven seed Ramos-Vinolas fell 6-4 6-3 to Emil Ruusuvuori.

Alexander Bublik defeated fellow Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin is straight sets, while Jo-Wilfred Tsonga went down in similar fashion against Egor Gerasimov.

Dominic Thiem has joined Rafael Nadal in announcing he will not compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old US Open champion pinned his decision on the belief he would struggle to find his best form, having endured a tough 2021 season so far.

Thiem has lost his last three matches, including a first-round defeat to Pablo Andujar at the French Open, and has an overall 9-8 win-loss record for the year.

World number five Thiem confirmed, however, that he intends to play Wimbledon, which begins on June 28, and will then focus on getting in the best possible shape for his grand slam title defence at Flushing Meadows.

Nadal said earlier on Thursday that he would play neither Wimbledon nor the Olympics, where the tennis tournament starts on July 24, because he wished to recover from his clay-court season efforts.

Women's tour superstar Naomi Osaka has elected to miss Wimbledon but said on Thursday she would represent Japan at her home Olympics.

Thiem revealed his Olympics decision in a statement posted on his Twitter page, saying: "After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics.

"For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher. However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don't feel ready to play my best in Tokyo.

"These last two weeks I have been training hard – and I’m starting to improve my conditioning and concentration little by little. My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.

"I wish the entire Austrian team traveling to Tokyo all the best. I am young and I hope to be able to play for Austria at the Olympics in Paris 2024."

Dominic Thiem conceded his game was "just not there" after he let a two-set lead slip in a shock first-round loss to Pablo Andujar at the French Open.

Thiem had looked in command against a player with no previous top-five wins to his name. However, he crumbled thereafter, further opening a bottom half of the draw that is there for the taking with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Federer all in the top half.

It left the two-time finalist at a loss to describe a massive upset that was the defining story of a day that saw Alexander Zverev, the man Thiem beat in last year's US Open final, battle to a five-set win.

There were no such exertions for Stefanos Tsitsipas, who cruised to a straight-sets win over Jeremy Chardy after the 9pm (local time) curfew in Paris robbed his opponent of the backing of the home crowd at Roland Garros.


"JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH"

Thiem denied any talk of him lacking motivation against Andujar, the Austrian instead pointing to a complete loss of form as the reason for his collapse.

Speaking in the media conference after his 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4 loss in nearly four and a half hours, Thiem said: "The game was just not there today.

"All the shots are missing power, they're not accurate enough. [I am] moving not well enough. Everything in my game, there are some percents missing, I actually don't really know why because since I stepped back on court it's already two months and I was really practising well."

Andujar might not have a top-five win, but he beat Federer – currently at number eight in the rankings after an injury absence – recently in Geneva.

Still, Thiem felt it was his own failings that were pivotal.

"Shots were there in practice and it got better in Madrid and Rome, but Lyon and here, the shots and how I moved was not the real me or my version who is able to play for big titles," Thiem said. "It's just not good enough at the moment. It's a very tough situation."

ZVEREV MAINTAINS PERFECT FIVE-SET RECORD

Zverev appeared set to join world number four Thiem in falling at the first hurdle when he fell two sets down to German compatriot Oscar Otte, the qualifier making just his third main draw appearance at a slam and playing in his first tour-level match this year.

But Zverev racked up 50 winners as he fought back to claim a 3-6 3-6 6-2 6-2 6-0 victory, stretching his perfect record in five-setters at Roland Garros to seven matches.

It marked the second time Zverev has produced a turnaround from two sets down, having achieved that feat to reach the US Open final by beating Pablo Carreno Busta, who overcame Norbert Gombos in straight sets on Sunday.

TSITSIPAS SEES OFF CHARDY

In terms of laying down an early marker, it was Tsitsipas who perhaps produced the greatest statement of intent on day one, though the coronavirus restrictions meant there were no fans on court to see it.

Had there been spectators, they might have helped Chardy prevail in the key moments in a tight opening set that saw Tsitsipas save a set point and then win it on a tie-break.

From there, the fifth seed was always in command and surged to a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 6-1 triumph.

HURKACZ HIT BY BOTIC BLITZ

Roberto Bautista Agut and Karen Khachanov were routine winners on day one while Cristian Garin prevailed in four sets against Juan Ignacio Londero.

Dan Evans, the 25th seed, went out as he lost in four sets to Miomir Kecmanovic and injury ended the hopes of 16th seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Dimitrov had three match points at 6-2 6-4 5-1 against American Marcos Giron but let them slip and promptly lost the next eight games before retiring with a back problem.

Also crashing out was Hubert Hurkacz, the 19th seed undone by Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp, who came from two sets down in a stunning display.

Van de Zandschulp won seven of his 14 break points and reeled off 55 winners in an incredible turnaround to seal a 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-2 6-4 win.

Dominic Thiem crashed out of the French Open in the first round as the US Open champion and two-time Roland Garros finalist suffered a stunning loss to Pablo Andujar.

Thiem looked to be easing to a routine win on the opening day of main draw singles action in Paris, having claimed the first two sets.

However, Andujar staged a remarkable fightback to end the world number four's bid for a third appearance in the final.

The Spaniard claimed a 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4 win, his first victory over a top-five opponent at the age of 35.

Thiem hit 66 winners over the course of an epic that lasted four hours and 28 minutes, but his efforts were undermined by 61 unforced errors to Andujar's 47.

It is another low point in an underwhelming year to this point for the fourth seed, who has won only nine of his 17 matches in 2021.

And it is a result that opens up the bottom half of the men's singles draw, with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all in the top half.

Andujar, who has never progressed beyond the third round at Roland Garros, will face Radu Albot or Federico Delbonis in round two.

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes – a statement largely true until Rafael Nadal emerged on the scene and made the French Open his own.

Since breaking through for his first Roland Garros triumph in 2005, only three other men – Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic – have managed to interrupt Nadal's dominance in Paris.

Nadal has won 13 French Open men's singles titles, seven more than any other player in the Open era (Bjorn Borg, six) heading into this year's edition.

Despite being seeded third, it would take a brave person to bet against defending champion Nadal adding to his mammoth and unprecedented haul in the French capital, where the second grand slam of the year gets underway on Sunday.

On the women's side, defending champion Iga Swiatek is looking to follow in the footsteps of Belgian great Justine Henin.

As all eyes shift to Court Philippe Chatrier and its surroundings, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind this year's slam, using Opta data.

 

The 'King of Clay'

Nadal will open his title defence against Australian Alexei Popyrin. Since 2000, only Nadal (13) and Gustavo Kuerten (two) have won the French Open more than once.

The 34-year-old swept aside world number one Djokovic in straight sets last year for his fourth consecutive French Open crown and 20th slam trophy, equalling Roger Federer's all-time record. Nadal maintained his stranglehold on the major, having not dropped a set throughout the fortnight. Only three players have previously won the French Open without losing a single set: Ilie Nastase in 1973, Bjorn Borg in 1978 and 1980 and Nadal in 2008, 2010, 2017 and 2020.

Nadal is the only player to have won the same slam more than 10 times. He has lost just two of the 102 matches played in Paris (excluding walkovers), losing to Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round and Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals, while has won each of the last 30.

The record for most slam titles on the men's circuit will also be up for grabs, with Nadal and the returning Federer seeking to snap their tie.

In the last 25 years, the number one seed has won the French Open on only five occasions – Nadal (2018, 2014 and 2011), Djokovic (2016) and Kuerten (2001). It does not bode well for top seed and 18-time major champion Djokovic, who is looking to close the gap on foes Nadal and Federer.

Australian Open champion Djokovic, who will face Tennys Sandgren in the first round, has reached the final in seven of the last 10 slams he contested, claiming six titles. However, the Serbian star has only featured in five French Open deciders (W1 L4) – fewer than in any of the other three major tournaments.

 

Declining Federer, Nadal challengers?

The French Open will be a welcome sight for tennis fans as Swiss great Federer, who has not played a slam since the 2020 Australian Open due to his troublesome knee and the coronavirus pandemic, makes his comeback.

Seeded eighth ahead of his opener against Denis Istomin, 2009 French Open champion Federer has only contested nine slam finals over the last 10 years (W4 L5) after reaching that stage in 22 major events in the previous decade (W16 L6). Since the beginning of 2016, the 39-year-old has only taken part in one French Open, in 2019, where he reached the semi-finals.

Daniil Medvedev has been flirting with a breakthrough slam triumph. The second seed is a finalist at the Australian Open (2021) and US Open (2019). Medvedev has reached the semi-finals in two of his most recent three appearances at a grand slam after going further than the fourth round in only one of his previous 13 major tournaments. However, the Russian has lost in the first round in each of his four Roland Garros appearances.

US Open champion and fourth seed Dominic Thiem has played two finals at Roland Garros (2018 and 2019) – more than in any other slam – but lost both of them against Nadal. He has won 80 per cent of his games at the French Open, his best win rate in any of the four majors.

Andrey Rublev is the only player to have taken part in the quarter-finals during each of the past three grand slams, including the 2020 French Open. But the seventh seed – who fired down 53 aces at Roland Garros last year, at least 14 more than any other player – is yet to progress further than that round.

Aslan Karatsev enjoyed a fairy-tale run at Melbourne Park in February, the Russian qualifier making it all the way to the semi-finals. Only one qualifier has reached the semi-final stage at the French Open: Filip Dewulf in 1997.

 

Iga in 14-year first?

Having never progressed beyond the fourth round of a major, Polish teenager Swiatek broke through for her maiden slam title via the French Open last year, upstaging Sofia Kenin.

The 19-year-old Swiatek – who will return as the eighth seed in her defence, starting against Kaja Juvan – could become the first woman to win consecutive titles at Roland Garros since Henin in 2005-2007 (three in a row). Only three players have won multiple titles in the women's tournament at the French Open in the 21st century: Henin (four), Serena Williams (three) and Maria Sharapova (two).

Swiatek could claim the French Open and Rome's Internazionali d'Italia in the same campaign. Only Serena Williams (2002 and 2013), Sharapova (2012), Monica Seles (1990), Steffi Graf (1987) and Chris Evert (1974, 1975 and 1980) have achieved the feat previously.

Swiatek celebrated slam glory in the absence of world number one and defending champion Ash Barty in 2020. No player has won more games on clay this season than Australian top seed Barty and Veronika Kudermetova (both 13).

Only Barty (three) has won more titles than third seed Aryna Sabalenka (two) in 2021 – the Belarusian is one of two players currently ranked in the top 20 in the WTA yet to reach a major quarter-final, alongside Maria Sakkari.

In a field also including four-time slam champion and reigning Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka – the second seed – Sabalenka could become only the third woman to win the Madrid Open and French Open in the same season after Serena Williams in 2013 and Sharapova in 2014.

As for fourth seed Kenin, she could be just the fourth American player to reach back-to-back Roland Garros finals, after Serena Williams (2015-16), Martina Navratilova (1984-1987) and Evert (1973-1975, 1979-80 and 1983-1986).

 

All eyes on Serena

The queen of WTA tennis for so long, Serena Williams is one slam success away from matching Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles championships. But the 39-year-old has been stuck on 23 since reigning supreme at the Australian Open in 2017.

While the French clay is not one of her favourite surfaces, it could be the scene of a remarkable achievement following a lengthy wait.

Roland Garros is where Williams has the lowest winning percentage (84 per cent) and where she won the fewest titles (three, at least half as many as the other slams).

Williams won her maiden French Open in 2002 and could hoist the trophy aloft 19 years after her first success in Paris. The longest span between two majors wins for a single player in the Open era is already held by Williams (15 years between 1999 and 2014 at the US Open).

Irina-Camelia Begu awaits the seventh seed in the first round.

Lyon Open top seed Dominic Thiem was stunned in straight sets by Cameron Norrie in the last 16 on Thursday for the "biggest win" of the Briton's career.

Thiem was handed a bye to this stage and fell at the first hurdle on a day of upsets, the world number four sending down four double faults and losing serve three times as he lost 6-3 6-2.

Norrie now has 10 victories on clay in 2021, compared to seven before this year, and will face qualifier Arthur Rinderknech – a surprise 6-7(7) 6-2 7-5 winner against Jannik Sinner – in the quarters.

"I'm so pleased to win. It's the biggest win of my career and my highest-ranked win," Norrie, who had never previously beaten a top-five opponent, said in his on-court interview. 

"It's such a beautiful day in Lyon. I couldn't be happier to get the win today and to get another match on the clay before Roland Garros."

Third seed Diego Schwartzman also exited the competition on Thursday with a 6-3 7-5 defeat to Richard Gasquet, who eased over the line despite letting two match points slip.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is now the strong favourite to triumph in France after starting his campaign with a convincing 6-1 6-4 victory over Tommy Paul.

Yoshihito Nishioka upset Gael Monfils 4-6 6-3 7-6(2) in an impressive comeback victory and now awaits Tsitsipas in the last eight.

At the Geneva Open, rising star Casper Ruud kept his momentum going with a 2-6 6-1 6-4 win over Dominik Koepfer to make it 12-4 on clay this season.

Ruud recovered from a sloppy first set by holding his serve in the following two sets to reach his fourth successive clay court semi-final on the ATP Tour.

Next up for the third seed is a meeting with Pablo Andujar, who beat youngster Dominic Stephan Stricker 4-6 6-4 6-4.

Elsewhere, Laslo Djere overcame Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-7(2) 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals and will face Denis Shapovalov later on Thursday after the Canadian recovered from a set down to beat Marco Cecchinato 6-7 7-5 6-1.

The winner of that match will meet Pablo Cuevas, the Uruguayan having ended Grigor Dimitrov's run with a battling 7-6 6-3 win.

Alexander Zverev can see his rivalry with Dominic Thiem continuing for many years after he came out on top in their latest duel at the Madrid Open.

The German followed up his famous win over home favourite Rafael Nadal by defeating Austria's Thiem 6-3 6-4 in the semi-final on Saturday.

Zverev, who won this event in 2018, will meet either Casper Ruud or Matteo Berrettini in the final.

Thiem had won the last four meetings between the two, including in last year's Australian Open semi-final and the US Open final, where he came from two sets down to win in an incredible fifth-set tie-break.

Zverev said after his victory over Nadal that he would be thinking about that crushing loss in New York prior to his meeting with Thiem.

And he was able to gain a small measure of revenge for those recent grand slam defeats in the Spanish capital.

"We have had some fantastic matches," said Zverev. "We have played the biggest matches in the world. We have played Masters 1000 finals, we have played grand slam finals and [the rivalry] is still developing.

"It is still going to go on for a few more years. Hopefully we will play a few more amazing matches. It feels very [sweet to win], it is a rivalry where he kicks my a** most of the time!

"It is going to mean a lot to me [if I can win the final].

"I am definitely looking forward to playing another big final and I hope I can turn it my way this time."

A solitary break of serve was enough for Zverev to claim the opening set.

He recorded two breaks in the second to go 4-1 up and although Thiem got one strike back, two more holds gave Zverev - who forced 11 break points to his opponent's two - a big victory.

The world number six is yet to drop a set this week but has lost his last three Masters 1000 finals going into his latest attempt on Sunday.

Thiem, meanwhile, has reached the Madrid Open semi-finals in four straight years but it still waiting for his first triumph at the tournament.

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