Published: Fri, April 20, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Djokovic digs deep to beat Coric

Djokovic digs deep to beat Coric

Thiem suffered a minor ankle fracture in March that kept him out for over a month.

It was a special day for the even younger Alexander Zverev, already ranked among the elite at No4 and with two Masters titles under his belt-including the last clay Masters of spring in Rome a year ago. Zherdev beat Luxembourg's Giles Muller 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

However, he was outclassed in the second set and seemed to fade physically in the decider, Thiem claiming his first break point for 4-3 and taking Djokovic's serve again to win after nearly two and a half hours. 2017 saw them meet four more times on the clay. He had a dream run last season as he finished as runner-up in Barcelona (ATP 500 tournament), Madrid Master's and also was the semi-finalist at French Open. "I wouldn't be sitting here in front of you and competing in this tournament if I didn't believe that I can do that (win grand slams), if my intentions are not like that", said Djokovic.

"It was a good victory - straight sets against a hard opponent", said Nadal.

(5) Dominic Thiem bt.

Rafael Nadal during his third-round match against Karen Khachanov in Monte Carlo on Thursday.

No 6 David Goffin of Belgium also needed four match points to beat qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (4), 7-5, while Zverev's older brother, Mischa Zverev also reached the third round by beating No 7 Lucas Pouille 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3).

In his favour, though, was that he had beaten Djokovic for the first time in their last meeting, at Roland Garros last summer. "I was surprised to see he only got a warning", Goffin said.

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The Austrian is seemingly always improving and won the Argentina Open earlier this year. It gave him a break point, but Djokovic saved it with an ace.

He was playing close to his best tennis despite calling for a medical timeout for his troublesome wrist.

Nadal lost twice to Thiem on clay past year but produced an emphatic display to beat the Austrian in straight sets en route to his 10th French Open title.

"I'm feeling like it's been getting better every day", Djokovic added after losing 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-3 to Thiem. The Spaniard is unquestionably the best mover on the clay now playing and his court coverage will pose Thiem a real problem. The Nadal forehand is a formidable weapon and his backhand isn't far behind, allowing Nadal to dominate from the baseline.

Fifth seed Thiem produced a battling display to save a match point and beat Andrey Rublev 5-7 7-5 7-5 in the second round.

(1) Rafael Nadal bt.

Nadal, who fired 25 winners against Khachanov, looked in ominous form as he progressed to the quarters for a 14th successive year.

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