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Friday, October 23, 2020

French Open 2020: Dominic Thiem moves to second round by beating Marin Cilic

Dominic Thiem won his first major tournament at Flushing Meadows two weeks ago and is among the favorites again at Roland Garros after losing the past two finals to Rafael Nadal.

By: AP | Updated: September 29, 2020 1:31:03 pm
Dominic Thiem celebrates winning his first round match against Croatia's Marin Cilic. (Source: Reuters)

Dominic Thiem showed no sign of a hangover from his U.S. Open triumph as he began his Roland Garros campaign with an impressive 6-4 6-3 6-3 win over Marin Cilic on Monday.

Third seed Thiem, beaten by Rafa Nadal in the last two French Open finals, was handed a tough first round against the Croatian former U.S. Open champion, but was straight into the groove under the roof on Court Phillipe Chatrier.

Cilic, who before Thiem’s Flushing Meadows win this month was the most recent first-time Grand Slam champion courtesy of his New York title in 2014, made things difficult for Thiem with some aggressive tactics but faltered at crucial moments.

Thiem broke the Cilic serve at 4-4 in the first set and then came from 0-40 down to seal the opening set.

Using his powerful single-handed backhand to damaging effect on the heavy claycourt, Thiem dominated the second set.

The 27-year-old lapsed briefly to trail 0-2 in the third but switched on the afterburners to reel off five games in a row before 40th-ranked Cilic stopped the rot.

Thiem had to save a break point when he served at 5-3 and claimed his fourth win in four meetings with Cilic as the Croat netted a return off a second serve.

Auger-Aliassime makes early French Open exit

Felix Auger-Aliassime’s main draw debut at the French Open ended in brutal fashion with a first-round exit as the Canadian was humbled 7-5 6-3 6-3 by Yoshihito Nishioka on Monday.

The 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime, in his second senior appearance at Roland Garros after losing in qualifying in 2018, never found his range under threatening skies on Court Nine.

Nishioka dropped serve early in the first set before taking control of the rallies and benefiting from his 19th-seeded opponent’s 58 unforced errors.

He will next face French wildcard Hugo Gaston.

Defending champ Rafael Nadal into 2nd round

Defending champion Rafael Nadal reached the second round of the French Open after beating Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Nadal is looking for a record-extending 13th title at Roland Garros and a 20th major overall to equal Roger Federer’s men’s record.

Nadal did not face a break point in the first two sets but trailed 15-40 at the start of the third. He saved one but was broken when he hit wide down the line.

Gerasimov had a medical timeout for several minutes at 2-2. He received treatment on his right foot after an awkward fall. The foot was heavily strapped and his movement appeared limited afterward.

Nadal served for the match and won on his first match point when Gerasimov patted a shot into the net.

The second-seeded Nadal next faces American Mackenzie McDonald.

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