© PHOTO CHANNEL 5/Tel Aviv

Dominic Thiem defeats Laslo Djere on Monday in Tel Aviv.

Thiem Battles Through In Tel Aviv

Austrian next plays Cilic

Dominic Thiem didn’t have things all his own way Monday, but he stepped up when needed to reach the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open.

The Austrian wild card improved on serve and found his range as the match went on to overcome Laslo Djere 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4 in two hours and 40 minutes at the ATP 250 event in Israel.

“I didn’t get off to a great start. I got the break in the second set and then I was a bit lucky I could turn the match around,” Thiem said in his on-court interview. “The third set was a real grind… I am very grateful to everyone who came tonight. It is really nice to play in Israel.”

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The former World No. 3 Thiem, who reached the final at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Rennes earlier this month, will next play second seed Marin Cilic as he aims to advance to his fourth tour-level quarter-final of the season.

In a hard-fought battle, Thiem fired 25 winners and was strong on serve in the third set, not facing a break point in the decider to level his ATP Head2Head series against Djere at 1-1.

In other action, Roman Safiullin defeated Frenchman Hugo Grenier 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and four minutes to earn his first tour-level win since he defeated Mikael Ymer in Belgrade in April.

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