Ones to watch on Wednesday

In his last year as a pro, Dominic Thiem is experiencing life in qualifying - and loving it

Dominic Thiem, premier tour, qualifications Roland-Garros 2024©Julien Crosnier / FFT
 - Alix Ramsay

Before we begin, we need to get one thing straight: the terribly nice Mr Thiem is not at all bothered that he was not offered a wild card into the main draw. 

The two-time Roland-Garros finalist is currently ranked No.131 in the world after struggling with a wrist injury for the past three years, an injury that has forced his decision to retire at the end of this season. But is he miffed that he has to endure the rigours of qualifying? Not a bit of it.

“I had a long time to be in a good ranking for the wildcard,” he said after his first-round win on Monday. “So I had enough tournaments, I had enough time to climb up the rankings; I didn’t do it. So I kind of didn’t deserve it so that’s fine.”


Dominic Thiem, Roland-Garros 2024, Simple Messieurs, Qualifications©Julien Crosnier / FFT

What made his first taste of the qualifying draw all the sweeter was walking out onto a packed Court Suzanne-Lenglen for his opening match (this is the first time the tournament has held qualifying matches on the show court).

That really took him by surprise and as he tries to soak up every moment of his last months on tour, it was another memory to add to the collection. “It was a good day,” he said, smiling from ear to ear.

The decision to retire was not easy but once his mind was made up, he was at peace with his choice. “I feel a bit relieved definitely and I also have the feeling that I can enjoy a bit more playing tennis again,” he explained. 

“You start the game because you love it, you feel passion for it, and then if you don't watch out, it starts to become more and more of a job. But now, I'm able to enjoy it way more and to see it as a passion and as a joy again. And that makes me very happy.”

A happy Thiem could, potentially, be a more dangerous Thiem but he is not making any predictions. “If it's maybe that I'm a bit relieved, maybe I play a bit better, I don't know,” he said. 

“I hope so, that I can pull off some great matches this year.” His next chance to do just that is against Otto Virtanen of Finland on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Three to watch on Day 3

Jule Niemeier (GER) v Lauren Davis (USA)

Jule Niemeier hit the headlines two years ago when she made her way through to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and then lost a cracker of a three-setter to her compatriot, Tatjana Maria. It was an emotional afternoon as the two women embraced at the net and for all watching, it was an introduction to the newcomer with the big serve and the thumping forehand. 

But there is more to Niemeier than power: she loves her slices and dropshots, too. Her progress from juniors to seniors was hindered by a succession of injury problems but once her talent was unleashed on the professional circuit, her Wimbledon run showed what she could do. Now, aged 24 and with a ranking of No.97, she started her qualifying campaign in style on Monday: she dropped just one game.

Jule Niemeier, 1er tour, qualifications, Roland-Garros 2024©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

Hamad Medjedovic (SRB) v Filip Krajinovic (SRB)

Now this could be tasty: an all-Serb derby pitting the seasoned pro (Filip Krajinovic) against the young gun with his eyes on the big time. Hamad Medjedovic is the current ATP Next Gen champion (he beat France’s very own Arthur Fils to lift the trophy last November) and while his ranking is No.134, that is due to being felled by a virus at the start of the year. 

He was only able to kick on again at the start of the clay court season and with a win in Madrid and a couple more in Rome, he is slowly gaining momentum. Trying to stop him is the 32-year-old Krajinovic who was once the world No.26 and back in 2017, reached the final of the Rolex Paris Masters (he lost to Jack Sock). But beset by injuries he was on the verge of retirement until he changed his mind and set out to reclaim his career.

Brenda Fruhvirtova, Roland-Garros 2023, qualifying third round© Philippe Montigny/FFT

Brenda Fruhvirtova (CZE) v Robin Montgomery (USA)

You have to wonder what Brenda Fruhvirtova’s parents gave her and her sister to eat for breakfast when they were growing up. Both 17-year-old Brenda and Linda Fruhvirtova (two years older) are professional players and both are here today as they attempt to qualify for the main draw. 

Brenda knows how it is done, too – she qualified here last year but was then drawn against Elena Rybakina in the first round and bowed out in straight sets. Since then, she has collected six ITF titles and pushed her ranking into the world’s top 100. 

She now sits at No.90, a career high with the promise of plenty more to come. And if you want to compare and contrast the sisters’ styles, Linda is playing the third match on Court 9 against Rebecca Sramkova of Slovakia.