Thiem Holds Off Zverev To Reach R4

Austrian into last 16 at Roland Garros

Dominic Thiem reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam championship for the second time on Saturday as he battled from a set down to beat #NextGen star Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 at Roland Garros.

"I knew already before the match that it was going to be a very tough one against such a great player like Sascha," said Thiem. "I think the little difference today was probably the three years' age difference."

The 22-year-old Thiem is the first Austrian to reach the last 16 in Paris since Jurgen Melzer was a semi-finalist in 2010. For a place in the quarter-finals, the Lichtenworth native will face Marcel Granollers, who received a walkover when nine-time champion Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw due to a wrist injury.

"Of course maybe I go differently into the match against him than [I would have] against Rafa because against Rafa I'm the underdog. Against Granollers, I'm probably the favourite," said Thiem. "It has good sides and also bad sides. Granollers is really fresh, he didn't play today. So it's going to be, again, a very tough match."

Thiem reached his first Grand Slam fourth round two years ago at the US Open, falling to Tomas Berdych.

After a career-best start to the season, Thiem is sixth in the early standings for the Emirates ATP Race To London, which determines the Top 8 at the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The right-hander has won three ATP World Tour titles, in Buenos Aires (d. Almagro), Acapulco (d. Tomic) and seven days ago in Nice, where he defeated Zverev.

Saturday’s clash marked Thiem’s third meeting with Zverev in the space of a few weeks. In addition to victory in the Nice final, Thiem had also beaten the 19-year-old German in the Munich semi-finals, going on to finish runner-up to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final.

The 13th-seeded Thiem was made to rue six missed break point opportunities in the 11th game of the first set as Zverev went on to snatch the opener in a tie-break. But Thiem struck back in the second set, relinquishing an early break advantage before securing a 5-2 lead and pulling level at a set apiece.

Thiem saved three break points to fend off Zverev’s advances in the second game of the third set before an injection of pace on his forehand helped him break the 6’6’’ German in the following game. Thiem saved break back points in the sixth and eighth games before breaking Zverev again to love in the ninth game to take the lead in the contest.

The Austrian made the decisive breakthrough in the fourth game of the fourth set, securing a 3-1 lead. He thwarted Zverev on a break back chance in the seventh game and went on to seal victory in the ninth game.

"I think for my first time at French Open, getting to the third round was not bad," said Zverev. "Even today against a top player like Dominic, who has been playing really well, really, really well on clay this year, I had my chances. I just didn't use them well enough. I think that's why I lost."

Thiem recorded an ATP-best 23rd clay-court win of the season and improved to a 39-10 record overall in 2016. 

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