Tennis / Sports

Nadal battles past 'future star' Thiem to advance in French Open

PARIS -- Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal stopped young challenger Dominic Thiem 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the third round of the French Open as 2013 runner-up David Ferrer also advanced.

The Spanish pair, who contested the final a year ago, emerged winners after contrasting battles, with fifth seed Ferrer beating Italian Simone Bolelli with 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 ease.

Top seed Nadal had to pass a much more serious test as he got past the 20-year-old Thiem, tipped for a huge future with an all-court game and one-handed power backhand.

The 57th-ranked player gave as good as he got in just over two hours on court with the Nadal, who ended with seven breaks of serve.

"It was a dangerous match, dangerous opponent today," said Nadal. "I played well, the way that I would like to play. I resisted his very powerful shots.

"When I had to play long points, I did well. When I had to attack and move him, I think I did well."

Thiem broke Nadal twice and went for his shots with 41 unforced errors and 27 winners.

Nadal knew he was taking on a special kind of player.

"He's a future star, 100 percent," the Spaniard said. "His level is very high. He hits strong from the back of the court. He has everything he needs to become a big champion.

"He already has a big serve and a lot of power with his forehand, with his backhand. I didn't have that serve at his age. I didn't have the backhand; I didn't have that power."

Nadal recovered from a break in the third set as Thiem, who lost the opening set on a double-fault, took a 2-0 lead. But it lasted only until the sixth game when Nadal seized it back.

The 1 seed broke again for 5-3 and served out victory a game later as Thiem saved a match point before putting a forehand long to lose.

Nadal's win was his 61st at Roland Garros, where his only loss came to Robin Soderling in 2009.

"It was a great feeling to play on this court," said Thiem. "I expected everything that came after.

"He's lost one match here in 10 years or something, so I knew that it's gonna be the biggest challenge in my tennis career."

The Spaniard, who came to the major he has dominated for a decade with just one clay title (Madrid), will next face Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, who defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Seventh seed Andy Murray turned in a no-nonsense 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win over Australian Marinko "Mad Dog" Matosevic, who rolled in the dirt after winning his first Grand Slam match on his lucky 13th try in the previous round.

Murray kept up the pressure and advanced with 31 winners, taking 14 of the final 17 games of a contest lasting just under two hours.

"I was just trying to make sure that my intensity was there every moment, especially at the beginning of the sets," Murray said. "I managed to get ahead early in all of them, and that helped.

"It was a good serving performance today, especially when I was down in games."

The Scot next plays Philipp Kohlschreiber after the German beat Denis Istomin 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

On the women's side, No. 5 Petra Kvitova beat Marina Erakovic 6-4, 6-4 while sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic continued to impress with a defeat of Japan's Kurumi Nara 7-5, 6-0.

Italian 10th seed Sara Errani beat German Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-2, 6-4; US 15th seed Sloane Stephens defeated Polona Hercog 6-1, 6-3. Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the third round over Italian Camila Giorgi 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

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