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Nadal puts Thiem in his place
Rafael Nadal handed Dominic Thiem a clay-court lesson to move into the third round of the French Open.
Thiem, 20, is one of tennis' brightest young talents but Nadal was close to his ruthless best in a 6-2 6-2 6-3 victory.
A mixture of the eight-time champion's spring wobbles and Thiem's rise made this an intriguing clash, and the young Austrian produced several of the flashy winners that are his trademark to force a break point in the opening game.
He strikes the ball extremely well off both wings, particularly his one-handed backhand, and produced one of the performances of the season so far to defeat Stan Wawrinka in Madrid earlier this month.
That made him the youngest man to beat a top-three player since Juan Martin del Potro in 2009 and many people believe he could go on to become a grand slam champion like the Argentinian.
But this was a rather chastening experience, albeit punctuated by moments of brilliance.
The problem for Thiem, as many before him have discovered, is the sheer number of superb shots needed to break through Nadal's legendary defences.
Having saved the first break point, Nadal then moved into a 3-0 lead and, of the first six games, Thiem won only one.
He gave himself hope by saving a set point and breaking the Nadal serve for the first time, but the world number one hit straight back to take the set when Thiem double-faulted.
Nadal certainly looked in fine fettle and he moved ahead early in the second set.
Thiem let out an anguished cry when he missed a backhand at 2-4, the strain beginning to show, and Nadal clinched the set with a brilliant running forehand winner.
Thiem's best moments came early in the third set when he broke the Nadal serve and moved 3-1 ahead, much to the delight of the crowd, who were right behind the youngster.
But his error count continued to nudge away from his tally of winners and Nadal won five games in a row to seal the win.
Fourth seed David Ferrer, who lost his first grand slam final to Nadal 12 months ago, eased into the third round with a 6-2 6-3 6-2 victory over Italy's Simone Bolelli.
In the next round there will be a clash of the giants between 6ft 11in Ivo Karlovic and 6ft 8in Kevin Anderson, who both came through in straight sets on Thursday.
Karlovic is playing the best clay-court tennis of his life aged 35 and followed up his upset of Grigor Dimitrov by defeating Andreas Haider-Maurer.
There was also an impressive win for American Donald Young, who had never won a match at Roland Garros before this year but knocked out 26th seed Feliciano Lopez 6-3 7-6 (7/1) 6-3.