/ Tennis

Rafael Nadal dispatches rising star Dominic Thiem at French Open

Updated: Thursday, 29 May 2014 22:06 | Comments

Rafael Nadal unleashes his trademark buggy-whip forehand against  Dominic Thiem
Rafael Nadal unleashes his trademark buggy-whip forehand against Dominic Thiem

Rafael Nadal handed Dominic Thiem a clay-court lesson to move into the third round of the French Open.

Thiem, 20, is one of tennis' brightest young talents but Nadal was close to his ruthless best in a 6-2 6-2 6-3 victory.

A mixture of the eight-time champion's spring wobbles and Thiem's rise made this an intriguing clash, and the young Austrian produced several of the flashy winners that are his trademark to force a break point in the opening game.

He strikes the ball extremely well off both wings, particularly his one-handed backhand, and produced one of the performances of the season so far to defeat Stan Wawrinka in Madrid earlier this month.

That made him the youngest man to beat a top-three player since Juan Martin del Potro in 2009 and many people believe he could go on to become a grand slam champion like the Argentinian.

But this was a rather chastening experience, albeit punctuated by moments of brilliance.

The problem for Thiem, as many before him have discovered, is the sheer number of superb shots needed to break through Nadal's legendary defences.

Having saved the first break point, Nadal then moved into a 3-0 lead and, of the first six games, Thiem won only one.

He gave himself hope by saving a set point and breaking the Nadal serve for the first time, but the world number one hit straight back to take the set when Thiem double-faulted.

Nadal certainly looked in fine fettle and he moved ahead early in the second set.

Thiem let out an anguished cry when he missed a backhand at 2-4, the strain beginning to show, and Nadal clinched the set with a brilliant running forehand winner.

Thiem's best moments came early in the third set when he broke the Nadal serve and moved 3-1 ahead, much to the delight of the crowd, who were right behind the youngster.

But his error count continued to nudge away from his tally of winners and Nadal won five games in a row to seal the win.

Andy Murray dropped just seven games in breezing past Marinko Matosevic to reach the third round.

The Wimbledon champion would not have expected to have too much trouble against a player he had beaten easily twice before and so it proved as he wrapped up a 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory in an hour and 56 minutes.

Murray is likely to face a significantly greater test in the next round against 28th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who won their only previous match on clay four years ago.

The seventh seed had done enough in a four-set victory over Andrey Golubev in round one and was no doubt happy conditions were much warmer and drier on Thursday.

There was no sign courtside this time of Amelie Mauresmo, the former Wimbledon champion whose presence at Murray's victory over Golubev led to speculation she could be his new coach.

The match was played in the tight confines of the Court One bullring, and Murray made a fine start with a break of serve in the opening game.

The Scot was the first opponent Matosevic had ever faced in the second round of a grand slam, the 28-year-old having finally won a main-draw match on Tuesday at the 13th time of asking.

After a slow start Matosevic began to play better and put some pressure on Murray, and the British number one had to dig himself out of a hole down 0-40 in the eighth game.

Having come through that sticky moment, Murray then forced a set point on the Matosevic serve, which he took when his opponent sent a backhand flying long.

Both men had chances at the start of the second set but it was Murray who took his to lead 2-0.

A sense of order had been restored on Thursday after the big upsets of the past three days, and Matosevic had to save three more break points to prevent Murray moving 4-0 in front.

It was only a temporary reprieve, though, as Murray, who was killing the Matosevic second serve, broke again and then served out the set with a second-serve ace.

The third set started with the longest game of the match but after 16 minutes and five break points it ended the same way most of the rest of them had - with Murray winning.

Matosevic simply had nothing to really hurt his opponent with, and Murray took another long game to move 4-1 ahead.

The Scot wobbled slightly within sight of the finish line and Matosevic broke serve for the first time in the match, but Murray hit straight back and took his first match point, appropriately with a backhand return winner.

Fourth seed David Ferrer, who lost his first grand slam final to Nadal 12 months ago, eased past Italy's Simone Bolelli 6-2 6-3 6-2.

In the next round there will be a clash of the giants between 6ft 11in Ivo Karlovic and 6ft 8in Kevin Anderson, who both came through in straight sets on Thursday.

Karlovic is playing the best clay-court tennis of his life aged 35 and followed up his upset of Grigor Dimitrov by defeating Andreas Haider-Maurer.

There was also an impressive win for American Donald Young, who had never won a match at Roland Garros before this year but knocked out 26th seed Feliciano Lopez 6-3 7-6 (7/1) 6-3.

The 24-year-old hails from Chicago like 18-year-old Taylor Townsend, who at her first grand slam posted one of the stand-out wins of Wednesday against 20th seed Alize Cornet.

Young said: "I have known her since she was born. Her and her sisters, it's more like a brother/sister type thing than friends because I have known them forever.

"I've seen her grow up and it's great to see her playing well and winning matches. And to be at this level, it's awesome. I'm really excited for her."

Young next plays Wawrinka's conqueror Guillermo Garcia-Lopez while there were also wins for French duo Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils, the latter now preparing to meet fellow crowd-pleaser Fabio Fognini.

In Friday's third-round matches, second seed Novak Djokovic has a potentially tricky clash against Marin Cilic while Roger Federer meets Russian Dmitry Tursunov.

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