Nine-times French Open champion Rafael Nadal unexpectedly pulled out of the French Open on Friday…
Fast-rising Austrian Dominic Thiem overpowered teenager Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to reach his first Grand Slam fourth round at the French Open on Saturday.
The 22-year-old 13th seed, already leading the charts for clay court wins this year, was cool, calm and composed as he recovered from the loss of the opening set to make it three wins in four weeks against the German.
Thiem now has his eyes on a deep run with Spain’s unseeded Marcel Granollers waiting in the last 16 rather than nine-time champion and fourth seed Rafael Nadal who withdrew on Friday because of a wrist injury.
Zverev, 19, showed just why he is being tipped to lead the new generation of players when he took a high-quality first set. Thiem took charge thereafter.
Having levelled the match he broke in the third game of the third set. Zverev recovered and had two break points to get back to 4-4 but he could not take either and Thiem moved 5-3 ahead with a glorious single-handed backhand winner.
Zverev, whose zebra-design shirt was covered in red dust after a fall, dropped serve to love to hand Thiem the third set and was rattled throughout the fourth as the match slipped away.
“This was my first match on a big court at Roland Garros and it was a great experience,” said Thiem.
Meanwhile, Ana Ivanovic’s hopes of adding to her 2008 French Open success ended rather tamely as she was beaten by Ukrainian 18th seed Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4 in the third round.
Tsonga out with injury
Serena Williams swept into the last-16 while French hopes of a first home win in 33 years were dealt a heavy blow when sixth-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired with a groin injury in the first set of his match with Ernests Gulbis.
Serena, seeking an Open-era, record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title, was up a set and about to tackle a second set tie-break against France’s Kristina Mladenovic when a thunderstorm sent everyone scurrying for cover.
On resumption, more than two and a half hours later, the top seed and defending champion needed five match points to finish the job. Serena won 6-4, 7-6(10). Venus then made it a double for the Williams sisters with a 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-0 win over Alize Cornet of France.
Leander Paes and his Swiss partner Martina Hingis moved into the mixed doubles quarterfinals, stunning fourth seeds Yaroslava Shvedova and Florin Mergea. Paes and Hingis won 2-6, 7-5, [10-6].