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Dominic Thiem: Wilson balls a 'bigger difference' than weather at Roland Garros, will 'change the results a bit'

Dominic Thiem at the 2020 US Open
Dominic Thiem at the 2020 US Open
Namit Kumar
Modified 25 Sep 2020, 12:08 IST

Dominic Thiem became the first player born in the 1990s to win a Grand Slam title after he defeated Alexander Zverev in a tight five-set final at the US Open earlier this month.

The Austrian, who has largely been considered a claycourt specialist his whole career, finally managed to win a Slam final after losing his previous three. He will now move on to Roland Garros with his sights set on his second Grand Slam in as many months.

In a recent media interaction, Dominic Thiem spoke about what will be different at the French Open this year, and how he will approach the tournament as a newly crowned Grand Slam champion.

Also check out: The Complete French Open 2020 Schedule 

Babolat balls were my favorite, and Rafael Nadal's too: Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem (L) and Rafael Nadal at the 2019 French Open
Dominic Thiem (L) and Rafael Nadal at the 2019 French Open

After his triumphant run in New York, the Austrian has been labeled by many as one of the favorites for the Roland Garros title this year. Thiem, who is seeded third at the tournament, is right behind 'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal (who has already won 12 titles there) and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic among the bookmakers.

This year, however, the French Open is not the same as it is every year. Played in September-October rather than the customary May-June, the tournament will have very different - and cooler - weather conditions. That, coupled with the insufficient match sharpness and fitness of players, is expected to play a huge role in deciding the champion.

Dominic Thiem, however, doesn't think these things will be a particular hindrance.

"I can remember, in the 2016 semifinals against Djokovic it was 11 degrees," Thiem said. "It won't get much colder."

The thing that is bothering Thiem more than the weather is the nature of the match balls. The French Tennis authorities have ended their long-standing partnership with Babolat and brought in Wilson balls instead - which are reportedly lighter, slower and less bouncy.

Dominic Thiem claims that this subtle but significant change will be a problem not only for himself, but also for a certain Spaniard.

"That will be the bigger difference," asserted Thiem. "The Babolat were actually my favorite balls, they were nice and fast, perfect for my game, perfect for Nadal's game too."
"The new balls will be slower, more open. That will certainly change the results a bit," the Austrian added.

Dominic Thiem comes into the French Open straight after the US Open, with no claycourt match experience on the professional circuit. But after having made his mark on the Roland Garros clay over the past two years - losing to Nadal in consecutive finals - the Austrian is still one of the favourites to lift the trophy in Paris this October.

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Published 24 Sep 2020, 00:59 IST
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