Thiem Keeps Winning On Grass

Austrian hits 19 aces in Halle opener

Dominic Thiem, 2018's ATP World Tour match-wins leader, recovered well on Monday at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle to advance 7-6(5), 6-2 against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

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Thiem led 5-3 in the opener and served for the set at 5-4, but the 24-year-old Austrian couldn't convert either of his two set points during the ninth game. But, in the tie-break, he won the final three points and played more freely in the second set.

“It was tricky. I started the match good actually because I was serving amazing. But from the baseline I had my problems,” Thiem said.

“But then from the tie-break on I also started to play better from the baseline and the second set was very good. In general, I’m really happy because he already had two matches here, he qualified, he’s a good player on this surface in general, and for me it was the first match in the season on this surface. So it was a good win.”

Watch Hot Shot: Thiem Crushes Backhand Pass

Thiem improved to 36-9 on the season. He was playing his first match since making his maiden Grand Slam final at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal). Eight of Thiem's 10 ATP World Tour titles have come on clay, but he does have a grass-court title to his name: 2016 MercedesCup in Stuttgart.

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The third seed will next meet Japan's Yuichi Sugita, who beat German wild card Maximilian Marterer 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Sugita won his maiden ATP World Tour title last year at the grass-court Turkish Airlines Open Antalya (d. Mannarino).

“His favourite surface is grass. So, it’s going to be very tough. He’s playing flat and returning well, and it’s tough for me against these players to hurt them on this surface because they don’t give you a lot... They make it really difficult for you to hurt them and that is what’s going to be tough against [him],” Thiem said.

In a battle of qualifiers, American Denis Kudla beat Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4.

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