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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

French Open: Thiem, Nadal advance to fourth round, Wawrinka out

U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem is still finding his bearings at a French Open that is being played in autumn because of the coronavirus pandemic.

By: Reuters | Updated: October 3, 2020 11:07:57 am
Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates during his third round match against Norway's Casper Ruud (Source: Reuters)

Third seed Dominic Thiem was not at his best but still had enough firepower to see off Norway’s Casper Ruud with a 6-4 6-3 6-1 win and march into the French Open fourth round on Friday.

U.S. Open champion Thiem, who has lost the last two finals at Roland Garros to Rafa Nadal, struggled with his serve in the opening set, facing six break points, but improved as the match progressed under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.

The 21-year-old Ruud arrived in Paris having reached the semi-finals in Rome and Hamburg in the lead-up to the Grand Slam and came into the third-round clash having won more tour level claycourt matches than anyone else in 2020.

Bidding to become just the second Norwegian player to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam – his father Christian reached the last 16 at the 1997 Australian Open – Ruud gave a good account of himself but it was not enough.His highlight was a brilliant ‘tweener’ lob, hit between his legs, during the second set which landed on the baseline with Thiem scampering back from the net but unable to return.

“I’m very happy. It was a great match, I didn’t make any mistakes,” Thiem said in a courtside interview. “Casper is a really great player, very attractive to play. I think there were many good rallies. It was a good match from both of us.

“The conditions are very nice to play under the roof, no wind, so the court is perfect and everything is prepared for great matches like that.”Facing Ruud for the first time, the Austrian broke the 28th seed’s serve six times and hit 32 winners and sealed the match with a fifth ace on his second match point.

Ruud argued with the umpire on a couple of occasions during the contest after some close line calls went against him.”I really raised my level,” Thiem told reporters.

“Maybe the first four games were not as good as the rest of the match by me but he’s a really good player, especially on clay, probably one of the best of the season. I guess if we give him one more year, then he’s going to be super dangerous.

“Here in Roland Garros the wet, slow conditions suited me a little bit more than him. But in general I was super happy with my performance. I think it was one of the best ones this year.”

Thiem, 27, who won his maiden Grand Slam in New York last month, next meets either former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka or local hope Hugo Gaston.

Wildcard Gaston keeps French flag flying with Wawrinka win

Wildcard Hugo Gaston took down former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka 2-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-0 in a riveting contest on Friday to advance to the fourth round and keep the home country’s hopes alive in the men’s draw at this year’s edition.

Gaston, albeit at only 1.73 metres, is the last French man standing out of the 18 that started in the main draw at this year’s tournament, wrapped up the contest with a bagel in the deciding set agains the three-time Grand Slam champion.

The Swiss, whose only loss to a Frenchman in 10 previous matches at Roland Garros was against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2012, ran out of steam as the 20-year-old, ranked 239th, romped to victory in front of the vociferous Court Suzanne Lenglen fans.

“I tried to play my game, I entered the court to win even if I didn’t think I could win,” Gaston said in his court-side interview.Gaston, who broke Wawrinka eight times, will next face Austrian third seed and U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem, the runner-up at Roland Garros in the last two years.

“It’s going to be a crazy experience (against Thiem). I’m going to give everything, just like today and we’ll see the result. I will have nothing to lose,” he said.

Nadal charges into French Open last 16

Claycourt master Rafael Nadal powered his way into the fourth round of his beloved French Open with a merciless 6-1 6-4 6-0 demolition of Italian Stefano Travaglia on Friday.

The second seed, looking to extend his record to 13 titles at Roland Garros and hoping to match Roger Federer’s record of 20 men’s Grand Slam singles titles, will next meet American Sebastian Korda.Nadal encountered little resistance on court Philippe Chatrier, hitting 28 winners and saying stars started to align in Paris.

“The scoreline is because I did a lot of good things, I went to the net more often, I was more aggressive,” the 34-year-old said.”I played my best match here at Roland Garros this year.

“Nadal started in dominant fashion, winning the first nine points.After 23 minutes, the first set was already in his bag. Travaglia had only managed six points, being completely overwhelmed by the Spaniard’s power.

Travaglia played deeper early in the second set and Nadal found himself with a little challenge.He broke for 4-3 but in the following game faced his first break point, which he saved to extend his lead to 5-3, then holding to love to move two sets up.Travaglia’s resistance cost him dearly as he collapsed in the third set, managing only eight points.

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