Thiem Stays On Track, Outclasses Sock In Paris
US Open champion hits 28 winners, faces third-set resistance
Third seed Thiem, who captured his first Grand Slam title at the US Open (d. Zverev) earlier this month, continued the fine form that helped him beat Marin Cilic in the first round by overcoming Sock 6-1, 6-3, 7-6(6) over two hours and 22 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Thiem recovered from 3/6 down in the third-set tie-break.
"I'm very happy," said Thiem, in an on-court interview. "I messed it up a bit in the third set, up 4-3 and 40/15. I found myself in the tie-break and he played very well, particularly in the second and third sets. I was lucky to save the three set points in the tie-break."
Thiem, who committed only 24 unforced errors against Sock for his 18th victory of 2020, will next face in-form No. 28 seed Casper Ruud, who is competing in Paris at a career-high No. 25 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
"Generally, I'm feeling pretty good," said Sock. "I'm still a little bit on the happy wave of New York, I would say. Of course, at one point I'm going to get super tired. I guess all the tension and focus on Roland Garros, it's still hiding the tiredness and everything. I hope I can push it as far as I can."
Thiem broke serve three times in the 25-minute first set, which ended when Sock struck a low forehand into the net. Sock mixed up his play in the second set, rushing the net for volley winners, and played closer to the baseline to make life more difficult for Thiem.
Sock saved two break points at 3-4 when good court positioning helped the American out of trouble, but Thiem made it third-time lucky after Sock hit a forehand error. Sock continued to fight, but in the next game Thiem closed out on his third set point with a forehand volley winner.
Once Sock lost his serve at 1-1 in the third set, Thiem appeared to be on course for the 140th clay-court win of his career, but the Austrian’s first serve deserted him to hand his opponent a way back into their fifth ATP Head2Head meeting. Sock grew in confidence, and so did his renowned groundstroke power, but he was unable to secure a third game in a row at 3-2, when Thiem hit a drop shot winner to stave off break point at 30/40.
Thiem continued to move Sock laterally, deep behind the baseline and created an error for a 4-3 advantage. Thiem then led 40/15 on serve, but Sock's struck back. Sock could have taken a 6/2 lead in the tie-break, but he narrowly missed a forehand on approach and although he held three set points, his first serve faltered. Thiem fought back by winning five straight points from 3/6 down to improve to 26-6 at Roland Garros.
"I felt more and more solid as the match went on," said Sock. "I kind of had to maybe tweak a few things... to try to help myself out there and give myself my best chance. I had a lot of chances at the end. I played a great third set [and a] really good tie-break to start. I put myself in a position to still be out there playing right now in a fourth set, and I would have loved to see where that could have gone."
Ruud fought his way past American Tommy Paul 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 in two hours and 36 minutes. The 21-year-old Norwegian, who captured his first ATP Tour title in February at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires (d. P. Sousa), is now 22-9 on the season.