Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 5 of the 2020 French Open.
What the hell, Dominic Thiem?
Just when we were starting to love the Austrian, just when we had called him men’s tennis «newly anointed king» in one of our daily previews, just when we decided to show we’re happy with the way he triumphed at the US Open last month, he goes ahead and does this?
We found an interview Thiem gave following his US Open win, where the new champion apparently knelt at Roger Federer’s altar. “Roger Federer congratulated me on my US Open win,” Thiem apparently said. “I promise, I will do everything so that Roger remains number one.”
By number one, Thiem means that he hopes to keep the Swiss atop the leaderboard for Grand Slams won in men’s tennis history. And the sound you’ve just heard is our eyes rolling in the back of our head.
Come on, man.
Look, Federer’s excellence and dominance have been well documented and, ultimately, the Swiss doesn’t need any more help than what he’s already put in himself in preserving his lasting legacy.
But wait, there’s more. “No other player can be compared to Roger,” Thiem said, “he’s one of a kind, a much more aesthetic and elegant player than I am.”
We’re not really sure what’s the real point in saying all this. Maybe Thiem feels he can throw King Roger a rose since he’s sporting a 5-2 edge in their head-to-head series but we still feel this is silly. It’s ultimately a very weird thing to say about a colleague and competitor who’s still competing for the same things you still are; maybe wait until after Federer retires?
In the end, Federer will likely end third on the career leaderboard for Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis. Unless, you know, if Thiem, someone who lost his first three Grand Slam finals, goes on an all-time run and wins, like, 10 majors in the next 12 tries to stave off Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Yeah, good luck with that.
Find your three most important matches of day five below. (The rest of the schedule is here.)
Court Philippe Chatrier: Karolina Pliskova  vs Jelena Ostapenko (First match of the day)
Remember then-19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko’s 2017 Roland-Garros title? We were all there, it’s a true thing that actually happened. The Latvian followed the title by making her entry in the Top 10, then the Top 5, before slowly sliding back down the rankings. The ensuing three seasons, following Ostapenko’s stunning title, were not as rosy but she’s managed to settle in a nice place over time.
By now, the youngster is probably better than her current ranking of No. 43 and she’ll get the chance to prove it today against one of the best players in women’s tennis. Good luck.
Court 9: Cristian Garin  vs Marc Polmans (First match of the day)
In 2020, no one has managed to maximize this utter clusterfuck of a 2020 season quite the way that Cristian Garin has, as the Chilean has already played 17 matches on clay and won all but three of them. Will he shock the world here in Paris? No. There’s little hope for him beyond the next match or two, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enough for a current Top 20 nod.
Court Suzanne Lenglen: Matteo Berrettini  vs Lloyd Harris (Third match of the day)
Italian Matteo Berrettini is looming large down at the bottom of this top section of the men’s draw: it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 24-year-old emerge unscathed and without breaking much of a sweat before the quarterfinals.
Novak Djokovic would likely await him there. It’s where the fun would end.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG