Thiem Survives Scare In Rio

Lajovic, Coric advance on Tuesday

Top seed Dominic Thiem held off an inspired effort from Brazilian wild card Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves at the Rio Open presented by Claro, finishing strongly in his 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win to reach the second round on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old Rodrigues Alves, No. 341 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, had never faced a Top 80 player before. He was unintimidated at facing one of the world's best in his ATP Tour debut, hanging with Thiem in their baseline rallies and using the home crowd to his advantage.

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But once the Austrian found his footing, he coasted through the opening set. With Rodrigues Alves serving at 2-3, Thiem prevailed in a grueling 27-ball rally before breaking the Brazilian to love. The top seed took 16 of the last 22 points and grabbed the early advantage with a crafty lob on set point.

With Thiem in full control, he suddenly began to experience left knee pain in the opening game of the second set. He received medical treatment at the changeover and continued to play, but his forehand and serve became far less reliable.

Sensing his opportunity, Rodrigues Alves forced the Austrian to play more shots and ultimately leak unforced errors. A wild forehand miss from Thiem at 3-3 in the second set gave Rodrigues Alves the lone break of the set and he brought the crowd to its feet by eventually sending the match to a decider. Thiem hit 18 unforced errors throughout the second set, compared to eight in the first set.

With an incredible upset suddenly becoming a possibility, Thiem quickly regrouped and didn’t allow the Quadra Guga Kuerten crowd to get behind the home favourite. The top seed charged to a 5-0 lead in the final set after just 20 minutes and knocked off a backhand volley winner on his third match point to wrap up play.

Awaiting Thiem in the next round is Spaniard Jaume Munar, who moved past Italian Salvatore Caruso 7-5, 6-4. Thiem leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-0, with both wins coming in straight sets on the clay of Barcelona.

Second seed Dusan Lajovic overcame a tricky test against Italian Marco Cecchinato to prevail 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1. The Serbian improved to 8-4 this season and tied his ATP Head2Head series with Cecchinato at 1-1. Lajovic will face Lorenzo Sonego for a place in the quarter-finals after the Italian outlasted Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 after two hours and 52 minutes.

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Brazilian Thiago Monteiro scored the upset of the day by outlasting fourth-seeded Argentine Guido Pella 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(3) in a first-round match that ended at 12:45am. Monteiro twice served to stay in the match during the final set before advancing in three hours and four minutes. Next up for him is Hungarian Attila Balazs, who defeated Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas 6-4, 6-3.

Fifth-seeded Croatian Borna Coric held off a late surge from Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero to advance 7-6(5), 7-5. Coric let slip a 5-1 lead in the second set, including two match points at 5-3, before regrouping to advance in one hour and 58 minutes. Awaiting him in the second round is #NextGenATP Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild, who won his opening match on Monday.

Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager produced a 7-6(4), 7-5 upset over eighth seed and last week's Buenos Aires champion Casper Ruud of Norway. The World No. 128 converted his fifth match point to prevail in one hour and 52 minutes.

Mager will next face Portuguese qualifier Joao Domingues, who saved two set points in the first-set tie-break en route to defeating Italian lucky loser Federico Gaio 7-6(8), 6-4.

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