Monaco | Zverev, Dimitrov, and Thiem make slow starts
With a number of first round matches still to be settled, five of the second round matches involving a number of the higher seeds, were decided with three of them forced into deciding sets before progressing, as expected, at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Third seeded Alexander Zverev won 4-6 6-3 6-2 against big-serving Gilles Muller, after the fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov had rallied to beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert 3-6 6-2 6-4 while the fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem saved a match point in his 5-7 7-5 7-5 battle with Andrey Rublev of Russia.
I was 10 centimetres from being out of the tournament Dominic Thiem
With the light fading, Zverev, playing the last match scheduled for the day, required time to settle but once he had, he made light work of his big-serving opponent from Luxembourg who saved the first match point with a powerful serve only to then lose the match on a double fault.
Earlier, fourth seeded Dimitrov had dropped his serve twice to in his opening set to the 82nd-ranked Herbert but found his range in the next and, while they exchanged breaks in the decider, it was the Bulgarian who took control in the seventh game and then went on to seal his victory.
“I was just a little bit rusty, I haven’t played a match for almost three weeks,” Dimitrov admitted. “All I (could) do was just fight and win. How doesn’t really matter.”
Of the three, fifth seeded Thiem survived the strongest challenge and nearly found himself home-bound but he battled his way past the fast-rising Russian youngster Andrey Rublev, saving a match point in the tenth game of the decider, before clinching victory two games later.
The 24-year-old Austrian, who is returning from a five-week absence with an ankle injury, next faces former world number one Novak Djokovic or Croatia’s Borna Coric for a quarter-final berth.
“I was 10 centimetres from being out of the tournament,” Thiem, a French Open semi-finalist these past two years, said. “But I’m happy that I played two hours and 40 (minutes). I’m looking forward to watching Djokovic and Coric in front of the TV, and then playing the winner on Thursday.”
In other matches the sixth seeded David Goffin of Belgium needed four match points to beat the Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4) 7-5, while Zverev’s older brother, Mischa Zverev also progressed into the third round by upsetting the seventh seed Lucas Pouille 2-6 6-1 7-6(3) and could well be facing his brother if both come through their next matches.