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Since Tuesday, the tennis world has been divided over the Thiem case - A look back at a predictable controversy

Since Tuesday, the tennis world has been divided over the Thiem case - A look back at a predictable controversy

Should Roland Garros have invited Dominic Thiem? That's been the question on everyone's lips since the invitations to Paris were announced. While the Austrian, a two-time finalist and four-time semi-finalist at Roland-Garros, announced his retirement at the end of the season, the French tournament decided not to offer him an invitation. But as the controversy swells, the question arises: is this a real scandal?

- An unsurprising choice

This decision, although not really surprising in view of recent editions, is not unanimously supported. In fact, it was a fairly predictable choice. While in the 80s and 90s it was quite common to invite foreign players, this is no longer the case in the tournament's recent past (with the exception of invitations agreed with the Australian and American federations). Since 2003, only four foreign players have been invited by the Paris Grand Slam: Michael Chang (2003), Gustavo Kuerten (2008), Gaston Gaudio (2009) and Andy Murray (2020).

Three of these players have already been crowned champions in Paris (Chang, Kuerten and Gaudio), while Andy Murray's career is even more impressive than Thiem's, with 3 Grand Slam titles, two Olympic titles and a stint as world number 1. So, for several years now, the Parisian tournament has chosen to give priority to French hopefuls over invitations to foreign players who have made their mark on the tournament. Let's not forget that Schwartzman will also be playing in his last Roland Garros and has not been invited either.

Once this general context has been established, it cannot be denied that this choice remains open to debate. In fact, since Tuesday, reactions have been rife on the internet. While some are defending the federation, others are crying scandal. From players to coaches, specialists to journalists, everyone has their own opinion.

- The French in support of their federation

Several French players took the floor to justify the tournament's choice. Notable among them was Lucas Pouille, ranked 229th this week, who, despite being denied an invitation, defended the choice made by Roland-Garros and its federation. He declared: "Of course he deserves it, he's had an extraordinary career. But the youngsters between 110th and 130th place deserve it too. I think it's normal to give them priority." (comments relayed on social networks).

Quentin Halys sounded a similar note. The Frenchman, ranked 188th, gave his point of view on social networks. Reacting to one of the publications that set off the fire, namely the tweet from our Tennis Legend colleagues, Halys explains with a certain irony: "Why not cry scandal in Vienna when he doesn't give Lucas a Wild Card when he's already won the tournament (in 2017)?"

As a reminder, Tennis Legend reacted strongly to the announcement of the invitations on Tuesday: "No Wild Card for Dominic Thiem at Roland-Garros. It's a huge lack of respect for a two-time finalist who has been the second-best clay-court player behind the King for several years."

- Foreign specialists cry scandal

Internationally, it's a much harder pill to swallow. Indeed, several professionals have voiced their disagreement with the choice of the Paris Grand Slam. Gill Gross, a tennis analyst working for Tennis Channel and the US Open, for example, made his disagreement known in a rather clear tweet: "Usually, I'm categorically opposed to complaining about the awarding or non-awarding of wild cards (fairness is NOT the goal here). But I have to make an exception here. Dominic Thiem in the final draw, that would make this year's French Open a much better event, without a doubt."

Gross isn't the only angry specialist. José Morgado, a renowned Portuguese tennis journalist, didn't mince his words, taking direct aim at the French federation: "I'm sorry, but Thiem's case is absolutely unforgivable. Absolute nonsense on the part of the French Tennis Federation." Sascha Bajin's opinion is also very clear-cut. The Serb, who has coached champions such as Naomi Osaka (with whom he won two Grand Slams) and Karolina Pliskova, didn't like the choice made by Amélie Mauresmo and her entourage. Obviously very upset, he declared on Twitter: "Roland-Garros isn't going to give Thiem, twice a finalist, a Wild Card in his final year. This is a joke... Sorry Roland-Garros but this is just terrible and whoever made this decision must be ..... (you guys fill in the blank)"

Anyway, the choice was made by t

ESP Nadal, Rafael [1]
6
6
6
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AUT Thiem, Dominic [7]
2
3
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AUT Thiem, Dominic [4]
1
1
7
3
ESP Nadal, Rafael [2]
6
6
5
6
tick
ESP Nadal, Rafael [4]
6
6
6
tick
AUT Thiem, Dominic [6]
0
4
3
SRB Djokovic, Novak [1]
6
6
6
tick
AUT Thiem, Dominic [13]
4
1
2
Dominic Thiem
131e, 496 points
Lucas Pouille
165e, 363 points
Quentin Halys
187e, 327 points
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Top des commentaires comments
I think this will be Andys last year. What a roller coaster been your biggest fan. And if only for that injury, what else might you have achieved.
2 thumb_up
Seumas Mac Seumas Mac
Well done champ, let's go now in next round
1 thumb_up
Daniel N. Daniel N.
Stop whining Andy, it's the same for both of you.
1 thumb_up
Aladdin Sane Aladdin Sane
Go champ and qualify for the main draw.
1 thumb_up
ummai445 ummai445
I miss you Domi well done man
1 thumb_up
Thandiswa Thandiswa