Paris, October 2
Third seed Dominic Thiem was not at his best but still had enough firepower to see off the challenge from Norway’s Casper Ruud with a 6-4 6-3 6-1 win to march into the fourth round of the French Open on Friday.
US Open champion Thiem, who has lost the last two finals at Roland Garros to Rafa Nadal, struggled with his serve in the opening set, facing six breakpoints, but improved as the match progressed under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.
Ruud arrived in Paris having reached the semi-finals in Rome and Hamburg in the lead-up to the Grand Slam and came into the third-round clash having won more tour-level claycourt matches than anyone else in 2020.
Bidding to become just the second Norwegian player to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam – his father, Christian, reached the last 16 at the 1997 Australian Open – the 21-year-old Ruud gave a good account of himself but it was not enough.
Ruud’s highlight during the match was a brilliant ‘tweener’ lob, hit between his legs, during the second set which landed on the baseline with Thiem scampering back from the net but unable to return.
“I’m very happy. It was a great match, I didn’t do any mistakes,” Thiem said in his courtside interview. “Casper is a really great player, very attractive to play, I think there were many good rallies, it was a good match from both of us.
“The conditions are very nice to play under the roof, no wind, so the court is perfect and everything is prepared for great matches like that.”
Facing Ruud for the first time, the Austrian broke the 28th seed’s serve six times and hit 32 winners to seal the match with a fifth ace on his second matchpoint.
Ruud argued with the umpire on a couple of occasions during the match after some close line calls went against him.
“I think he has a lot of confidence, he played Rome semis, Hamburg semis, one of the best claycourt players this year,” Thiem said of his opponent.
“He had a very good attitude from the beginning to the end of the match so I was trying not to give him any chances also in the third set, and I was doing that great.”
Thiem, 27, who won his maiden Grand Slam in New York last month, will next meet the winner of the match between former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka and local hope Hugo Gaston. Reuters