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Dominic Thiem reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam championship for the second time on Saturday as he battled from a set down to beat #NextGen star Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 at Roland Garros.
"I knew already before the match that it was going to be a very tough one against such a great player like Sascha," said Thiem. "I think the little difference today was probably the three years' age difference."
The 22-year-old Thiem is the first Austrian to reach the last 16 in Paris since Jurgen Melzer was a semi-finalist in 2010. For a place in the quarter-finals, the Lichtenworth native will face Marcel Granollers, who received a walkover when nine-time champion Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw due to a wrist injury.
"Of course maybe I go differently into the match against him than [I would have] against Rafa because against Rafa I'm the underdog. Against Granollers, I'm probably the favourite," said Thiem. "It has good sides and also bad sides. Granollers is really fresh, he didn't play today. So it's going to be, again, a very tough match."
After a career-best start to the season, Thiem is sixth in the early standings for the Emirates ATP Race To London, which determines the Top 8 at the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The right-hander has won three ATP World Tour titles, in Buenos Aires (d. Almagro), Acapulco (d. Tomic) and seven days ago in Nice, where he defeated Zverev.
Saturday’s clash marked Thiem’s third meeting with Zverev in the space of a few weeks. In addition to victory in the Nice final, Thiem had also beaten the 19-year-old German in the Munich semi-finals, going on to finish runner-up to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final.
The 13th-seeded Thiem was made to rue six missed break point opportunities in the 11th game of the first set as Zverev went on to snatch the opener in a tie-break. But Thiem struck back in the second set, relinquishing an early break advantage before securing a 5-2 lead and pulling level at a set apiece.
Thiem saved three break points to fend off Zverev’s advances in the second game of the third set before an injection of pace on his forehand helped him break the 6’6’’ German in the following game. Thiem saved break back points in the sixth and eighth games before breaking Zverev again to love in the ninth game to take the lead in the contest.
The Austrian made the decisive breakthrough in the fourth game of the fourth set, securing a 3-1 lead. He thwarted Zverev on a break back chance in the seventh game and went on to seal victory in the ninth game.
"I think for my first time at French Open, getting to the third round was not bad," said Zverev. "Even today against a top player like Dominic, who has been playing really well, really, really well on clay this year, I had my chances. I just didn't use them well enough. I think that's why I lost."
Thiem recorded an ATP-best 23rd clay-court win of the season and improved to a 39-10 record overall in 2016.
Third seed Stan Wawrinka, the defending Roland Garros champion, provided an interesting perspective on the mental side of the game after his win over Jeremy Chardy on Friday to set up a fourth-round encounter with Viktor Troicki.
“When I'm playing against Troicki or a player like today, it's all up to me. A few years back it wasn't just up to me,” said Wawrinka, who added that the difference between contenders and the rest of the field can be fleeting.
“The margin [between top players and the rest of the field] isn't that huge. Between playing a five-set match and a three-setter that's easier, sometimes there's not that much of a difference, unlike what the score would seem to indicate,” said Wawrinka, who saw off Lukas Rosol in five sets in his opening match in Paris. “Rosol was playing really well. My legs were not so good. It perhaps wasn't my best tennis. But in the end, I had to fight for these five sets. He played well.”
While Wawrinka can count himself among the men to beat at the second Grand Slam of the year, it wasn’t always so. He failed to clear the fourth round in his first eight trips to Roland Garros, then lost in the first round of the 2014 edition before going all the way last year.
“What makes a difference between me a few years back and me now, is that everything is much stronger,” Wawrinka said. “My level of play is much stronger. Physically things are much stronger. I'm much more confident.
“I have defeated all these guys over the past few years. So I can play anyone. If I just come along and I move physically and I feel the ball, I have the match under my control. Then of course I need to win it. But it's already great to be able to think like that.”
“When there are days when I'm not playing too well, I know that there is always a way out. It makes a huge difference when you're not playing your best tennis but you can still win a five-set match in a Grand Slam tournament.
“Maybe the top-seeded players have this in common. There are days when we accept the play isn't going to be as nice as usual. I've lost five-set matches in my life, too. There is no guarantee.
“But maybe we are a little bit calmer than the others.”
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan overcame a second-set challenge from Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin to win 6-3, 7-6(1) in the second round of Roland Garros on Friday. The fifth seeds dropped serve to trail 4-2 in the second set, but broke back the following game before sweeping the last seven points of the tie-break. Last year’s finalists are looking for their third Roland Garros title.
Second seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau also raced to an early lead but were unable to close out their second-round match, losing 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to 2008 champion Pablo Cuevas and 2014 finalist Marcel Granollers. Cuevas/Granollers fired nine aces and broke serve four times to advance.
Defending champions Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo eased into the third round with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Frenchmen Tristan Lamasine and Albano Olivetti. Dodig/Melo did not face a break point in the 75-minute encounter.
Three-time champion Leander Paes teamed up with Marcin Matkowski to see off Julian Knowle and Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-3. The 42 year old is looking to win Roland Garros for the fourth time (1999, 2001 & 2009).
Defending Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka is finding his best form as he bids for another title in Paris. The No. 3 seed convincingly moved past No. 30 seed Jeremy Chardy in their third-round match on Friday, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
With the win, Wawrinka increased his winning streak on clay to seven matches. He prevailed in last week's ATP World Tour event in Geneva.
"Everything that I did today was pretty high-level," said Wawrinka. "I hit the ball well. I was moving around well. I managed to do what I wanted."
Wawrinka dropped serve to start the match, but it was one of the few lapses in form he had all afternoon. The Swiss star immediately broke back in the next game and clinched the set with another break of serve at 5-4.
In the second set, the defending champion took his game to another level. Hitting 14 winners to seven errors, he earned an early break of serve to lead 3-1 and eventually fired an ace on set point to take a commanding two-sets lead.
Wawrinka once again grabbed an early break to lead 3-1 in the third set. It appeared the match would be wrapped up with Wawrinka serving at 5-4, but the Frenchman brought the crowd to their feet with inspired returning to level the match. The No. 3 seed responded by breaking Chardy in the next game and comfortably serving out the match on his second try.
Wawrinka will next play No. 22 seed Viktor Troicki of Serbia, who enjoyed a convincing win over No. 16 seed Gilles Simon of France, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Wawrinka leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Troicki 4-0.
"The last time I played him on clay was a three-hour match in Belgrade [in 2010]," said Wawrinka. "He's a player who plays well. He plays his own [style] of tennis."
Securing the second-set tie-break was particularly impressive by Gasquet since Kyrgios came into the match with a tour-best 14-2 record in tie-breaks. The Frenchman moves into the second week at Roland Garros for the fourth time.
"I'm happy with the way I played. It's great for me to win against Nick in three sets," said Gasquet. "It's a big victory for me, especially on Centre Court with my home crowd."
After falling behind 0/40 in the opening game of the match, Gasquet went on a tear by winning 13 of the next 15 points. Kyrgios struggled to find his footing in the first set, hitting eight winners to 14 errors. The Australian dropped serve down 2-5 to give the opening set to his opponent.
In the second-set tie-break, Kyrgios produced an error on set point at 6/5. Gasquet narrowly missed a backhand passing shot on his first set point at 7/6, but made good two points later and took a commanding two-set lead.
Gasquet grabbed an early break to start the third set, hitting a forehand winner to take a 2-1 lead. Continuing to frustrate the Australian with his variety, he earned another break to lead 5-2 and wrapped up the match on serve in the next game.
The Frenchman looks to reach his first quarter-final in Paris when he next plays No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori. Gasquet leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 6-2, but Nishikori has won their past two meetings this year on the clay of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome.
"He's one of the best players in the world now. He can win a Grand Slam," said Gasquet. "He takes the ball very high, so he's one of the toughest players for me right now. He's the favourite, [but] I think I can win and I'll try my best."
Gabashvili was unable to convert two set points up 6/4 in the opening set tie-break, allowing Isner to come back. The American clinched the set 9/7 with an ace. The Russian only had one break chance at 5-4 in the second set, but it was all he needed as a forehand winner leveled the match at one set each.
Gabashvili was nearly flawless in the third set, hitting 12 winners to two errors and breaking Isner twice to take a commanding lead. The American refused to go away quietly, though, immediately breaking his opponent to start the fourth set. The one-break advantage was all Isner needed to bring the match to a deciding set.
It appeared that the Russian was headed for an upset after securing an early break to lead 2-0 in the fifth set, but Isner found another gear and didn’t lose another game for the rest of the match. The American finished the day with 34 aces to four double faults and 69 winners.
Isner will now play No. 2 seed Andy Murray for a place in the quarter-finals. He hasn’t beaten Murray in five previous meetings, but the pair has never played each other on clay.
"I played him one time in Cincinnati and had match points, and last year in Shanghai I won the first set and had a lot of chances in the second," said Isner. "He's played the big points better than me, which is one of the reasons why he's No. 2 in the world. Against a guy like Andy, I have to play big in the big moments and I'll try to do that."
“I have to retire from the tournament because of problem in my wrist that I have had for a couple of weeks,” Nadal said during a press conference on Friday. “Yesterday I played with an injection in my wrist. Last night I started to feel more and more pain. I did an MRI and an echography and the results were not positive. It’s not broken, but if I keep playing, something will break in the next couple of days. Every day the image has gotten a bit worse.
“I came here to win the tournament, and that means playing five more matches. According to the doctor, that would be impossible, as there is a 100 per cent chance something will break,” Nadal added. “I know that I cannot finish the tournament. It’s part of life and I hope to be back at Roland Garros for many years to come."
Nadal conceded a walkover for just the third time in his career. He withdrew ahead of the 2004 Estoril quarter-finals and the 2012 Miami semi-finals. According to the Spaniard, he will not need immediate surgery.
“For the moment, I need a couple of weeks of immobilisation. Then we're going to do the treatment, and we’ll hope that the treatment works well. But now is not the moment to talk about that. It's just about taking it day by day, to work hard.
“I hope to have a fast recovery.”
Djokovic plays Aljaz Bedene of Great Britain on Court Philippe Chatrier. The World No. 1 won their only previous career meeting in the opening round of last year’s Australian Open, but Bedene is in peak form having reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
After rallying from two sets down in his second-round match on Thursday, No. 6 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looks to keep the French fans happy when he plays 2014 Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis of Latvia. Tsonga leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 3-2, but Gulbis won their most recent meeting this February at the ATP World Tour event in Marseille.
No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych will take on No. 25 seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. Cuevas won their only previous meeting last October at the ATP World Tour event in Beijing. He is looking to reach the second week at a Grand Slam for the first time.
Another familiar face in the third round is No. 11 seed David Ferrer, who will once again clash with fellow Spaniard and No. 21 seed Feliciano Lopez. Ferrer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 9-6, but has won their past six matches and all five career meetings on clay. He is looking to reach the second week at Roland Garros for the sixth straight year.
In a battle featuring two potential future champions, No. 13 seed Dominic Thiem plays #NextGen star Alexander Zverev of Germany. Thiem has won both previous career meetings, including last week’s final at the ATP World Tour event in Nice. Both players are competing for their first appearance in the second week at Roland Garros.
A battle pitting youth versus experience will see #NextGen star Borna Coric take on No. 14 seed Roberto Bautista Agut. Bautista Agut leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 2-1 and has won both career meetings on clay. Coric is aiming to reach the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time, while Bautista Agut looks to make his first round-of-16 appearance at Roland Garros.
Lastly, No. 12 seed David Goffin looks to pick up his first career win against Nicolas Almagro of Spain, having lost their three previous career meetings. Almagro is aiming to reach the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in three years.
After battling through his first two rounds in five sets, Andy Murray enjoyed a much more straightforward victory in the third round at Roland Garros on Friday, defeating Ivo Karlovic 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3).
The Scot was two points from defeat as he rallied from a two-set deficit against Radek Stepanek in the first round and overcame an inspired performance by French wild card Mathias Bourgue to prevail in five sets on Wednesday.
Murray has enjoyed great success against 6’11’’ Karlovic in the past and Friday was no different as he toppled the Croatian in one hour and 56 minutes to improve to a 7-0 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
The Scot surged through the first two sets, taking advantage of the 37-year-old Karlovic having been extended to 12-10 in a fifth set in his second-round win over Jordan Thompson. Murray was thwarted on two break points in the fifth game of the third set, but went on to dominate the ensuing tie-break, sealing victory on his first match point as Karlovic returned serve wide.
"Especially at the end, it was very close in the third set," said Murray in his on-court interview. "I got off to a quick start [in the match] and against someone like Ivo, that's important. He fought right to the end and made it very tough. I'm obviously glad to win the tie-break and get off after a fairly quick match.
"The return has normally been the strongest part of my game, but even still, against him, it's not always up to you. When he serves well, there's not much you can do. I just try to stay patient and take care of my own service games."
The 29-year-old Murray came into Roland Garros in red hot form, winning his third ATP World Tour clay-court title by defeating Novak Djokovic in the Rome final. The Dunblane native has been a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in three of the past five years, losing out to Djokovic in a five-set thriller last year.
The Canadian is yet to drop a set in Paris to reach the fourth round for the second time after wins against Janko Tipsarevic and Adrian Mannarino. In his first tour-level meeting with the No. 133-ranked Martin, Raonic twice squandered a break advantage in the first set, missing five set point opportunities, before clinching the opener in the tie-break on his eighth set point chance.
Two breaks of serve in the second set gave Raonic a two-set lead and, after letting slip an early break advantage in the third set, the Toronto native reeled off the final four games of the match from 2-3 down to prevail.
The 25-year-old Raonic reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros two years ago, falling to Novak Djokovic. The right-hander has a 27-6 match record in 2016, highlighted by winning his eighth ATP World Tour title in Brisbane (d. Federer), finishing runner-up in Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic) and reaching the semi-finals at the Australian Open (l. to Murray).
Next up for Raonic will be Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who battled past 23rd seed Jack Sock, 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Sock, who reached the fourth round in Paris last year, led by a set and 4-1. But the No. 55-ranked Ramos-Vinolas fought back to claim a memorable win, securing his place in the fourth round of a major for the first time.
The 28-year-old Ramos-Vinolas, who fell to his knees and kissed the clay in celebration, had only advanced past the first round four times in his 18 previous Grand Slam appearances. Victory over Sock marked his first five-set win since claiming his first five-set match against Javier Marti at 2011 Roland Garros.
Fifth seed Kei Nishikori battled past Fernando Verdasco, edging the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4 to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the second time. The Japanese star improved to 13-5 in five-set matches and 92-26 overall in decisive sets, which is the best differential in the Open Era (minimum 16 matches).
"First of all, I'm very happy," said Nishikori. "It was a tough, tough five sets. He started playing much better in the third and fourth, and even the first couple of games in the final set, too. So it wasn't easy, but very happy to win."
The 26-year-old Nishikori came into Roland Garros in a rich vein of form, having been a standout performer during the European clay-court swing with a runner-up showing in Barcelona (l. to Nadal) and reaching the semi-finals in Madrid and Rome, falling to Djokovic both times.
Nishikori goes on to face French hope Richard Gasquet. Nishikori trails their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-6, but his two wins both came in the past month, in the third rounds in Madrid and Rome.
"I will try to prepare well," said Nishikori. "First of all, I have to recover well from today's match. Gasquet is from here, so it's not easy. But I have a good feeling against Richard, especially winning our last two matches. So I will try to play good tennis."
Watch highlights as Viktor Troicki posts a convincing third-round win over Frenchman Gilles Simon at Roland Garros. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images
Watch highlights as Richard Gasquet delights the home crowd with a straight-sets win over Nick Kyrgios in the third round. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images
Watch highlights as Andy Murray closes out a straight-sets win over Ivo Karlovic in the third round of Roland Garros. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images
Watch highlights as Stan Wawrinka continues his title defence with a straight-sets win over Jeremy Chardy in the third round of Roland Garros. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images
Watch highlights as NextGen star Alexander Zverev defeats Stephane Robert to set a third-round clash with Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images
Watch highlights as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga rallies from two sets down to beat Marcos Baghdatis in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images
Watch highlights as three-time runner-up Novak Djokovic reaches the third round with victory over Steve Darcis on Thursday at Roland Garros. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images
Watch highlights as nine-time champion Rafael Nadal dismisses Facundo Bagnis in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday to claim his 200th Grand Slam win. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images
Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock are off to a good start at Roland Garros, prevailing 6-1, 7-5 against Thomaz Bellucci and Martin Klizan on Thursday. The seventh seeds swept the last five games of the first set and got the late break in the second set. Pospisil/Sock saved all four break points faced in the 80-minute encounter. In the second round, they will face 2014 champions Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Other seeded teams also enjoyed success in their opening matches. Second seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau beat Guido Pella and Horacio Zeballos 6-4, 6-4. The Dutch/Romanian duo held 14 break points, converting two. They move on to face 2008 champion (w/ Horna) Pablo Cuevas and 2014 finalist (w/ M. Lopez) Marcel Granollers.
Third seeds and defending champions Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo dismissed Robin Haase and Viktor Troicki 6-0, 6-3 without facing a break point. Dodig/Melo raced out to a 6-0, 3-0 lead before serving out the match in 42 minutes. Their second-round opponents will be Frenchmen Tristan Lamasine and Albano Olivetti.
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares eased past Russians Evgeny Donskoy and Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-3 in the first round. Murray/Soares went three-for-three on break points to set up a meeting with French wild cards David Guez and Vincent Millot.
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan defeated Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Santiago Gonzalez 6-2, 6-3 in the first round. The fifth seeds captured the Roland Garros title in 2003 and 2013, and were runners-up on four occasions. Last year, they lost the final to Dodig/Melo.
Sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga delighted the French crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier by rallying from two sets down to defeat Marcos Baghdatis in their second-round match on Thursday, 6-7(6), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
The early stages of the match saw Tsonga unable to convert several opportunities. The Frenchman missed a set point in the opening set tie-break and couldn’t take advantage of break point chances to lead 3-0 lead in the second set. A volley winner on break point gave Baghdatis a 5-3 lead in the second set and he closed things out one game later to take a commanding two-set lead.
True to his competitive nature, Tsonga refused to bow out quietly. Finding the range on his shots, he raced out to a 4-1 lead in the third set and brought the crowd into the match after clinching it. Although he did more running in the baseline rallies throughout the fourth set, it was Baghdatis who appeared tired as the Frenchman brought the match to a deciding set.
Tsonga once again grabbed an early break of serve to start the fifth set. Continuing to chase down drop shots after more than three hours of play, he converted on his third break point chance at 4-2 and comfortably served out the match one game later. He improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Baghdatis to 7-1.
The win marked the third time in Tsonga’s career that he came back from two sets down. The last time he did was against Roger Federer in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2011. Next up is former Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.
In the first upset of the day, Gulbis prevailed in his second-round over No. 26 seed Joao Sousa of Portugal, 6-2, 7-5, 6-3. Gulbis was in peak form throughout the contest, firing 60 winners to just 25 unforced errors. Tsonga leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 3-2, but Gulbis won their most recent match in 2014 at the ATP World Tour 250 event in Marseille
Twelfth seed David Goffin continued his impressive form by winning over Carlos Berlocq of Argentina, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. The Belgian was in full flight in the latter stages, hitting 22 winners to 13 unforced errors in the last two sets. He will play veteran Nicolas Almagro of Spain for a place in the second week.
"I'm very happy to win the match in three sets against such a good clay player in the second round of a Grand Slam," said Goffin. "That gives me confidence."
Almagro reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in three years by defeating Jiri Vesley of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. The former World No. 9 racked up 19 break points throughout the contest and converted on six of them. Almagro leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Goffin 3-0, but they haven’t played in over three years.
The No. 1 seed continued his quest for the career Grand Slam on Thursday by overcoming a tricky match against qualifier Steve Darcis of Belgium, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. Djokovic had an early break in all three sets, but Darcis came back in each of them before the World No. 1 regained the momentum.
“I was pleased to get the job done in three sets, but there were things that I definitely didn’t like in my game today,” said Djokovic. “Too many unforced errors from the first or second shot of the rally. Credit to Steve for playing a lot of variety and mixing up the pace…[but] hopefully that’s not going to happen in the later rounds.”
Djokovic once again has coach Boris Becker accompanying him this tournament. He credited the six-time Grand Slam champion with his outstanding year and said the German has brought noticeable changes to the mental part of his game.
“Boris was the first choice [as coach]. I’ve had some great times with him the past couple of years and learned a lot from a psychological point of view of how to handle things on the tour, on and off the court,” said Djokovic. “He’s somebody who has personally experienced those ups and downs, so he can convey that knowledge and experience to me. His contribution to the team is definitely big and everything has worked in harmony so far.”
Djokovic will next play Aljaz Bedene of Great Britain, who is in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. The Serbian defeated Bedene in the opening round of last year’s Australian Open, but is expecting a different match this time.
“We practised a bit in Monte-Carlo and a couple of other places. He’s a good guy, very talented and a quick motion for his first serve,” said Djokovic. “He doesn’t have anything to lose and I’m sure he’ll give it his all. I just hope I can sustain the pressure that comes from him and enjoy my time on the court.”