Fourth seed Dominic Thiem said on Monday he had “forgotten” the bizarre row over him being booted out of his own press conference so that Roland Garros organisers could accommodate Serena Williams.
Last year’s runner-up put the incident behind him to beat the dangerous Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 on a packed Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a French Open quarter-final against either 10th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov or two-time semi-finalist Juan Martin del Potro.
His confident victory included an outrageous ‘tweener’ shot between his legs that flew just inside the baseline.
Thiem was unhappy at being asked to vacate the main interview room on Saturday midway through answering questions when Williams arrived for her press conference after crashing out of the tournament with a shock third-round loss to Sofia Kenin on Saturday.
He then told Eurosport Germany on Sunday that he thought 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams had showed a “bad personality”, but backed down after seeing off Monfils.
“It was just a very, very strange thing,” he said, back in the main room for his latest press conference.
“I mean, it never happened to me before, something like that. I’m easygoing. Of course it was strange the first few minutes, but I have forgotten it now. That’s it for me.”
Thiem also tried to understand why the 37-year-old Williams may have put pressure on organisers to hold her press conference quickly.
“I don’t know if it was her mistake or if it was only the mistake of the officials, but I don’t know if she saw me or if she saw that somebody’s in the room,” he added.
“So if she would have seen me, then it would be nicer from her to wait. But, I mean, it’s also understandable, in a sort of way. She lost and everything.
“So I think it was a little bit [of a] mistake of her, mistake of the officials, but as I said, it’s forgotten.”
The 25-year-old Thiem, still looking for his first Grand Slam title despite reaching the Roland Garros semis in each of the last three years, hit 27 winners in an efficient performance as the erratic Monfils made 33 unforced errors.
Thiem surged into a 5-1 lead in the opening set before Monfils briefly rallied, but it was one-way traffic after that, with the Austrian sending his ‘tweener’ sailing past a stranded Monfils.
“It was an amazing shot. It was really amazing, of course, because it was the only choice I had. I was so far off the ball and couldn’t play it any different way.”
The 14th seed Monfils’s defeat leaves home nation France without a men’s singles player in the quarter-finals for the third successive year.
From 2008 until 2016 there was always at least one Frenchman in the last eight.