French Open: Nadal teaches young gun Thiem brutal lesson
PARIS: Defending champion Rafael Nadal handed out a bruising lesson to highly-rated Austrian Dominic Thiem on Thursday as a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 victory took the Spaniard into the French Open third round.
Eight-time winner Nadal, bidding to be the first man to clinch five Roland Garros titles in a row, had been expected to face a severe test from the 20-year-old world number 57.
But Thiem, who trains for big matches by running through forests carrying tree trunks to build stamina, ran out of steam on Philippe Chatrier court despite showing occasional glimpses of potential.
Nadal took his career record in Paris to 61 wins against a single loss.
“Dominic is a dangerous player and I knew that if I wasn’t playing well then I’d be in trouble,” said Nadal.
“But he is a future star, 100%. His level of ball is very high; he is strong on the forehand and backhand. He has everything to be a big champion.”
Thiem had beaten Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka in Madrid and gave 27-year-old Nadal plenty to think about in an eight-minute opening game.
But Nadal proceeded to pounce on Thiem’s raw inconsistencies which saw the young Austrian break the Spaniard twice only to be broken himself seven times and commit 41 unforced errors.
Meanwhile, Nadal’s compatriot David Ferrer, the fifth seed and last year’s runner-up, cruised past Italy’s Simone Bolelli 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.
Ferrer has made the quarter-finals of all of his last nine majors and such was the ease of his fifth win in five against Bolelli that the most challenging part of his day was fielding questions over his grooming.
“I changed my haircut,” said the Spaniard. “That’s all. But there is nothing superstitious about it.”
In other matches, Donald Young beat Spanish 26th seed Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.
Big-serving Ivo Karlovic followed up his defeat of 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov, which was his first in Paris in seven years, by defeating Austria’s Andreas Haider-Maurer.
Jankovic eases past Nara 7-5, 6-0
Looking to make the most of the shock defeats of top seeds Serena Williams and Li Na in the women’s draw, Serb sixth seed Jelena Jankovic, three times a semi-finalist, eased past Japan’s Kurumi Nara 7-5, 6-0.
“There is still lots of great players in the draw and every match gets tougher as we progress through tournament,” said Jankovic.
Sloane Stephens, the 15th seed and top American following the defeat of defending champion Williams, saw off Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 6-1, 6-3.
Russian 27th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the champion in 2009, beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
In a match held over from Wednesday, Argentina’s Paula Ormaechea came back from 6-2, 5-3 down to beat Romania’s Monica Niculescu 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 and will face Maria Sharapova for a place in the last 16.