Australian Open 2020: Dominic Thiem Survives Five-setter, Alexander Zverev Storms into Round 3
Australian Open 2020: Dominic Thiem survived the Alex Bolt test while Alexander Zverev eased past Egor Gerasimov.
Dominic Thiem (L) and Alexander Zverev. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Melbourne: World number five Dominic Thiem survived a five-set scare after being pushed hard by gutsy home hope Alex Bolt at the Australian Open Thursday.
The Austrian, targeting a maiden Grand Slam crown, looked fragile as the crowd got behind the wildcard but ultimately prevailed 6-2, 5-7, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2 in 3hrs 22mins.
Thiem is among a clutch of players tipped to win a Major after reaching the last two Roland Garros finals, but he was exposed at times by a player ranked 140 who controlled much of the second and third sets.
"It was a tough match, Alex played great and he had the crowd support," said Thiem, who has never gone past the fourth round in six previous attempts.
"But I also love to play in such a great atmosphere."
He faces another tricky clash in the third round, against either American 29th seed Taylor Fritz or big-serving South African Kevin Anderson.
Thiem looked comfortable after racing through the opening set and was serving at 5-4 to go two sets in front.
But the crowd was roaring for Bolt and he remarkably broke, with the tide turning as he rallied to clinch the set 7-5.
The third set was a tight affair with neither player giving an inch. Thiem had an opportunity at 4-4 with two break points but he failed to convert.
The Austrian's best efforts were being met with resistance, with Bolt saving another three break points on his next service game, leaving Thiem frustrated at his missed opportunities.
It went to a tiebreaker and Bolt raced into a 6-2 lead, but wobbled as Thiem won three points in a row before the Australian sent down a booming ace to got two sets to one in front.
However, Thiem recovered his composure and after a series of long baseline rallies broke twice to take the match into a deciding set.
The Austrian's focus and fitness proved decisive in the fifth, with a Bolt forehand into the net giving him a break and he raced to victory as his opponent flagged.
7-HOUR PRACTICES PAYING OFF FOR ZVEREV
Alexander Zverev said his game was on the up after a poor start to the year as he came through three tight sets to beat 98th-ranked Egor Gerasimov at the Australian Open on Thursday.
The German seventh seed has been practising up to seven hours a day after a dismal ATP Cup and the hard work paid off as he safely reached the third round.
"Definitely much better than the ATP Cup. Now in the third round, I'm very happy about that," said the 22-year-old, who beat Italy's Marco Cecchinato in round one.
The 6ft 6ins (198cm) Zverev sent down so many double faults at the ATP Cup that Belinda Bencic suggested he donate to Australia's bushfires appeal for each one.
But his serve, a key focus of his extended practices, was a weapon once again on Thursday as he fired nine aces against no double faults, with a first-serve percentage of 78 percent.
"Sometimes it's difficult, sometimes it's easy," Zverev said when asked what it was like trying to rediscover form.
"The last week or so when we were practising, we were spending six or seven hours a day on court trying all kinds of things to find my game."
Zverev will next play Fernando Verdasco or Nikoloz Basilashvili as he attempts to match his best Australian Open result after reaching the round of 16 last year.
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