Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 6 of the 2021 French Open.
For our day 6 primer, we’d like to explain how Grand Slam organizers have reacted toward Naomi Osaka and…
Okay okay, we’re kidding we’re kidding. We have discussed Osaka’s decision quite a few times already and all the more power to her for standing up for what she believes in.
What’s happening with Dominic Thiem?
Now look, we’re entirely aware that we’re about to do the thing that Osaka says she hates about reporters and put doubt in a player’s mind but…Yeah no, we don’t have any excuse. I guess at least we’re not doing so at a post-match press conference?
Should Dominic Thiem and his fans start worrying about the Austrian’s recent results? Before we answer, let’s maybe move back in time a few weeks and months. Remember when Thiem kept hitting his head on the ceiling? When he kept making Grand Slam finals and losing each one in increasingly heartbreaking fashion?
Last summer, Thiem caught the break of all breaks with Novak Djokovic’s flimsy default at the US Open and managed to finally get the Grand Slam chip off his back. The 27-year-old followed that title with a quarterfinal berth at the French Open, but his results have been rather pedestrian since. In 2021, he’s reached the fourth round at the Australian Open and now the first round at Roland-Garros. He’s barely playing .500 tennis in 2021, which is just preposterous for a player of his calibre.
He’s been fairly upfront about his issues in recent weeks and we hope he figures everything out again. The bad news is that next on the horizon is the grass season, played on what’s by far his worst surface.
This summer, he’ll play Wimbledon, where his career record is a minuscule 5-6. It’d be great if he can at least get it to 6-6.
Day 6 preview
Here’s the place where we look ahead at tomorrow’s schedule and highlight three different matches. If you’d like to see the full day’s slate, you may do so right here.
Court Philippe-Chatrier: Madison Keys  vs Victoria Azarenka  (First match of the day)
Is this third round matchup the most fun on paper on the women’s side? It’s tough to say really, given that we’re writing this while the full top half of the draw is currently or waiting to play their second round matches. But this one is about as good as it gets; sure, it would be even better if it were played on hard courts to serve Madison Keys’s and Victoria Azarenka’s strengths, but we do what we can with what we’re given.
Court Philippe-Chatrier: Danielle Collins vs Serena Williams  (Not before 4pm local time)
One thing is for certain: it’s that if Serena Williams were to get to Grand Slam title No. 24 here in Paris, she would have earned it the hard way. She’s part of this lower half of the draw that’s markedly trickier than the other; further, she’s in the toughest of the two quarters from that half. Granted, making the final, even at 39 years old, is well within her reach, but it would be still be quite impressive.
Court Philippe-Chatrier: John Isner  vs Stefanos Tsitsipas  (Not before 9pm local time)
At 23 years old, is it Stefanos Tsitsipas’s turn to join the elite of men’s tennis? Did you know that by some metrics, he’s accomplished more at his age than Roger Federer had? Tsitsipas is already the highest ranked Greek player in history and profiles as the favourite in the lower half of this draw. This year’s French Open is probably his best chance yet to make a first Grand Slam final.
Which isn’t to say that Tsitsipas has lacked good results so far. We won’t spoil everything, but there’s a good feature on ESPN that examines whether the 23-year-old’s breakthrough could be coming this year in Paris.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG