PARIS: Rafael Nadal handed out a brutal French Open lesson to highly-rated Dominic Thiem yesterday as Roland Garros took a breather from the shocks which 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.
Fifth-seeded compatriot David Ferrer, the runner-up in 2013, and Andy Murray, the seventh seeded Wimbledon champion, also cruised through.
Following the exit of world number three Stan Wawrinka and the defeats of women’s top seeds Serena Williams and Li Na, yesterday 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, had been expected to face a severe test from world number 57 Thiem.
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 goes on to 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,” said Nadal.
“But he is a future star, 100 percent. His level of ball is very high, he is strong on the forehand and backhand. He has everything to be a big champion.”
Thiem had beaten 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 raw inconsistencies which saw the young Austrian break the Spaniard twice only to be broken himself seven times and commit 41 unforced errors.
Nadal’s compatriot 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 next faces experienced German player 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 number one Amelie Mauresmo.
“I’ve spoken to a few people, male and female. 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,” said the Scot.
Donald Young, the former world junior number one who has struggled to live up the huge hype surrounding him, made the third round for the first time by beating Spanish 26th seed Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.
Young next plays Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain who knocked out Wawrinka in the first round.
Big-serving Ivo Karlovic followed up his defeat of 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov, which was his first in Paris in seven years, by defeating Austria’s Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Karlovic fired 24 aces and didn’t face a break point as he made the third round for the first time.
The 2.11m (6ft 11in) Karlovic next faces 2.03m (6ft 8in) Kevin Anderson of South Africa who brushed aside Axel Michon, the world number 206 from France, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.
Looking to make the most of the shock defeats of Williams and Li in the women’s draw, there were were comfortable wins for Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Jelena Jankovic.
Fourth-seeded Halep of Romania beat British qualifier Heather Watson 6-2, 6-4, Czech fifth seed Kvitova saw off New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic 6-4, 6-4 while Serb sixth seed Jelena Jankovic, three times a semi-finalist, eased past Japan’s Kurumi Nara 7-5, 6-0.
Sloane Stephens, the 15th seed and top American following the defeat of defending champion Williams, beat Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 6-1, 6-3.
Russian 27th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the champion in 2009, beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
France’s Kristina Mladenovic, who put out Li, made the third round for the first time with a 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-3 win over Alison Riske of the United States.
Victories for Maria-Teresa Torro Flor and Silvia Soler-Espinosa, meanwhile, marked the first time since 2001 at any Grand Slam that four Spanish women made the last 32. AFP