PARIS, June 3, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem routed the 14th seeded Gael Monfils in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros on Monday. Monfils’ loss ended the French men’s campaign in the draw after Kei Nishikori ended Benoit Paire’s run, earlier in the day.
Thiem won 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 48 minutes to make it to his fourth straight quarter-final in the French capital. Monfils’ game had its usual burst of flashiness but the fourth seed countered it with some pinpoint accuracy of his own to keep himself ahead at all moments in the match.
This was the 2018 Roland Garros finalist’s first straight-sets win in the tournament this year. All his three previous matches were determined in four sets. “My best match so far in this tournament. And I have to be honest, he helped me a little bit, because he had a really bad start into the match,” Thiem said in his post-match press conference.
“Of course, the life on court is way easier if you’re up 5-2 double break after only 20 minutes I think it was. That really helped me. After that I stayed solid. It was the first match for me at this tournament where it didn’t have any up-and-downs. It was really solid. I’m very happy.”
Thiem will next take on 10th seeded Russian Karen Khachanov, who defeated No. 8 seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in three hours and nine minutes.
Meanwhile, joining Thiem in the last eight in the top-half was fifth seed Alexander Zverev. The 22-year-old German defeated Italy’s ninth seed Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(5) in two hours and 55 minutes. This was Zverev’s second consecutive quarter-final at the French Open, equalling his best-ever result at the event, and in a Major.
“It was a good match. I didn’t start well and he did. He played very aggressive, hitting the ball very hard, which made it difficult,” Zverev said. “But then after first set, I mean, I played three very good sets. Very solid from my part. I am happy to be in the quarterfinals now.”
On the other hand, more than disappointing, it was a tough loss for Fognini. The 32-year-old who had come through the previous rounds easily, looked hampered by an injury to his right calf that he had heavily taped. It was to his credit that despite going down in the second and third sets tamely, he kept Zverev on his toes, saving two match points in the fourth-set tiebreak before succumbing on the third.
Zverev will play the top-seed Novak Djokovic for a place in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
“I’m happy to get through, and hopefully I can get another chance to play a great match here. I mean, obviously last year’s quarterfinal was very unfortunate to me, very sad, the ending, with an injury,” Zverev said. “Hopefully this year will be different, and it will be a great match.”