PARIS, May 28, 2016
Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, who are both former finalists in the boys’ singles event at Roland Garros, went head-to-head in the third round battle between two of the sport’s rising stars.
The 22-year-old Austrian defeated the three years younger German for the third time in as many meetings between the two. Both previous encounters took place this season and it was again the Austrian, who prevailed on court Suzanne Lenglen on Saturday.
Thiem started with a lot of backhand slices in the early stages of the match, trying to make the tall German move but the Austrian youngster missed six break points. Zverev pushed the first set into the tie-break, serving and returning well to clinch the opener 7-4 after 60 minutes.
From then on, Thiem put more variety in his shots, gaining the first break of the match in the second game of the second set. The world number 15 from Wiener Neustadt took the frame in the ninth game in 90 minutes.
The longer the match laster, the better Thiem found his rhythm with his aggressive top spin baseline shots. He took the third set and broke Zverev’s serve in the fourth game of the fourth set to seal a 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory in two hours and 50 minutes.
“I already knew before the match that it’s gonna be a very tough one, as Sascha is such a great player. I think the little difference today was maybe probably the three years’ age difference,” Thiem told afterwards and also could see himself making some improvements compared to last year.
“I think the biggest part is the physical part. Physically I belong to the top, which was not the case during the last years. Especially in the Grand Slams, this is really important. I think there I made the biggest step from last year to this year,” the the world number 15 told and added:
“I feel fine. I mean, as long as everything is taking place in Europe without having long flights or jet lags, it’s not that tough. At the beginning of the year, you fly one jet lag after another. This is really tough but here in Europe it’s fine.”
Thiem will now take on Marcel Granollers in the fourth round. The Spaniard benefited from the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal on Friday.
“I heard that Rafa but pulled out but I tried not to focus on that. I knew that it’s a really hard match today. So I didn’t think about it at all. I just wish Rafa all the best.”
Nonetheless, the chances of getting into his first quarterfinals at a major, will be really good for Thiem. The Austrian faced Granollers three times and has only lost two sets so far. All previous meetings took place in 2014.
“Of course there a good things to play Granollers instead of Rafa, but also bad sides. It will probably a totally different match, as against Rafa I would have been the underdog. Now, I am probably the favourite but Marcel will be fresh, as he didn’t have to play today. It is going to be very tough again.”
Zverev was obviously disappointed.
“I thought it was quite tight actually the whole match, to be honest. He used his chances much better than me. I had a lot of break points, which I only used one of them. The score at the end was not as tight as I think the match was. But, he just played better in the important moments. That’s what I think,” the German teenager had to admit. He could also take some positives from this week in Paris.
“My first time at the French Open and then getting to the third round was not bad. Even today against a top player like Dominic, who has been playing really well on clay this year. I had my chances, as I said. I just didn’t use them well enough. I think that’s why I lost.”