© Al Bello/USTA

Dominic Thiem is a three-time Grand Slam finalist.

Thiem Celebrates 27th Birthday With Routine Win

Austrian star now faces 2014 champion Cilic

Dominic Thiem made it a 27th birthday to remember on Thursday afternoon when the second seed completed a comprehensive 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 second-round victory over Sumit Nagal in two hours in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I was playing well today,” said Thiem. “I had a good plan for the match. He's very dangerous when he can dictate with his forehand. I was exactly trying to avoid that. He also has very, very fast legs… I was trying to play my fastest tennis to keep him on the backhand, to not let him dictate with the forehand. I did that very well today.

“I think the only bad game he played was at 4-3 to me, in the first set, where he kind of came back into the match after he broke me, then he did some unforced errors. Besides that, I think it was a good match on a quite good level. I'm happy to be through in straight sets.”

The Austrian, who has bounced back from an opening-round exit at last week’s Western & Southern Open (l. to Krajinovic), will now challenge 2014 champion and No. 31 seed Marin Cilic. Thiem has a 2-0 lead in their ATP2Head series, including a 7-6(7), 6-4 win at the Rogers Cup last year.

When asked about playing Cilic, Thiem said, “He's one of the big champions of the last decade, one of the very few active players, who won a Grand Slam tournament here in New York… Even though, for sure, he's not on the top of his game, he's always dangerous for a deep run in these big tournaments. He's not a guy I want to face in the third round as he's a former champion. On a good day, he can beat anybody. It’s going to be a real tough one.”

Thiem started in confident fashion by taking a 3-0 lead, and while Nagal converted his fifth break point at 1-3, the 23-year-old Indian's depth of shot was ultimately exposed. From 3-3 in the first set, Thiem won five straight games as Nagal, competing with a great deal of self belief, was consistently slow to move into the court for the short ball.

Thiem, runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January, was broken when serving for the second set at 5-2. But he immediately bounced back and went on to run through the third set, losing just two of his 16 service points. 

Cilic, who lost to Denis Shapovalov in the Western & Southern Open first round last week, recorded his 10th match win of the season by beating World No. 104 Norbert Gombos 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 in just under three hours. Cilic struck 35 winners, including 15 aces.

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