Rafael Nadal surges into the third round of French Open
PARIS // Rafael Nadal handed out a brutal French Open lesson to highly rated Dominic Thiem on Thursday as Roland Garros took a breather from the upsets that have rocked the tournament.
Defending champion Nadal cruised to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 victory over his 20-year-old Austrian opponent to reach the third round.
Nadal’s fifth-seeded compatriot, David Ferrer, the French Openrunner-up in 2013, and Andy Murray, the seventh-seeded Wimbledon champion, also advanced.
Following the exit of world No 3 Stan Wawrinka and women’s top seeds Serena Williams and Li Na, Thursday at the French Open was a sedate affair.
Eight-time winner Nadal, bidding to be the first man to clinch five Roland Garros titles in a row, was expected to face a severe test from world Thiem, ranked No 57 in the world.
But the Austrian, who trains for big matches by running through forests carrying tree trunks to build stamina, ran out of steam on Philippe Chatrier court, despite showing occasional glimpses of potential.
Nadal took his career record in Paris to 61 wins against a single loss and next will face Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
“Dominic is a dangerous player and I knew that if I wasn’t playing well then I’d be in trouble,” Nadal said. “But he is a future star, 100 per cent. His level of ball is very high, he is strong on the forehand and backhand. He has everything to be a big champion.”
Thiem beat Australian Open champion Wawrinka in Madrid and gave 27-year-old Nadal plenty to think about in an eight-minute opening game.
But Nadal proceeded to pounce on Thiem’s inconsistencies, which saw the young Austrian break the Spaniard twice, only to be broken himself seven times and commit 41 unforced errors.
Ferrer cruised past Italy’s Simone Bolelli 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 and next faces Italy’s Andreas Seppi.
Murray, a semi-finalist in 2011, brushed aside Marko Matosevic, the last Australian man in the tournament, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 and will face Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Murray has been linked with a host of names – both men and women – to become his next coach with the list even stretching to former women’s No 1 Amelie Mauresmo.
“I’ve spoken to a few people, male and female,” Murray said. “ Right now in the middle of a tournament is not really the time when I’m sitting down and speaking to people and making phone calls.
“I was coached by my mom for a long time.”
Donald Young, a former world junior No 1 who has struggled to live up the hype surrounding him, made the third round for the first time by beating Spanish 26th-seeded Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. Young next plays Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.
Sloane Stephens rises after the mighty have fallen
PARIS // She is the top-ranked American player left in the woman’s draw, but that matters not to Sloane Stephens.
The upset defeat of defending champion and top-seeded Serena Williams on Wednesday left the 21-year-old from Florida as her country’s top flag-bearer and she delivered on Thursday with a confident 6-1, 6-3 win over Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.
With Venus Williams also a casualty on Wednesday and Alison Riske and Coco Vandeweghe both losing their second round matches yesterday, only Stephens and 18-year-old wildcard Taylor Townsend are left among the US contingent at Roland Garros.
Asked what it meant to her being the top-ranked American left in the draw, Stephens was adamant.
“Means nothing,” she said. “I think it’s the two top seeds [Serena Williams and Li Na] being gone. I mean, it means nothing. Every match is a tough match.
“Every match is going to be a battle. You have to go out there and compete. You have to go out and compete no matter what.”
Seeded 15th, Stephens was solid on serve against Hercog, apart from a brief blip in the second set when the Slovenian broke to get to 4-3, and she has yet to drop a set, having defeated China’s Peng Shuai in the first round.
She next plays Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, who defeated Vandeweghe, for a place in the last 16.
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Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM