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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

French Open round-up: Thiem ready for 'very tough' quarter-final against Zverev

Austrian defeated Nishikori to reach the last-eight while his German rival needed five sets yet again

Dominic Thiem was in fine form to defeat Kei Nishikori and will next face Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals. Guillaume Horzajuejo / EPA
Dominic Thiem was in fine form to defeat Kei Nishikori and will next face Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals. Guillaume Horzajuejo / EPA

Dominic Thiem is looking forward to playing a "legendary" quarter-final match with Alexander Zverev after two of the most talented young players advanced at the French Open on Sunday.

Austrian Thiem produced a 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 statement win against Kei Nishikori while German second seed Zverev, 21, played a third consecutive five-setter to beat Russian Karen Khachanov.

"It's, I think, the match, especially in Germany and Austria, everybody was hoping for. So I think we can make it legendary and that would be very nice," Thiem, 24, said.

Thiem was the last man to beat Rafael Nadal on clay, having defeated him in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open, but he was then defeated in straight sets by Zverev in the final, two years after the Austrian prevailed in the round of 32 at Roland Garros.

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Thiem has a 4-2 record against Zverev but he is aware it will count for nothing when both players set foot on court on Tuesday.

"It's going to be a very tough match against him. He's going to be pumped. It's his first quarter-finals. So he wants to move on, for sure," Thiem said.

While Zverev still has time to make his mark at the highest level, Thiem wants to do better right now as he is nearly 25 and he wants more than his two French Open semi-finals from 2016 and 2017.

"I think for me it's time to move on to make a great step, because I'm turning 25," he said. "I'm not that young anymore. That's his part. He's only 21."

Former world No 1 Novak Djokovic produced his best performance on the tournament to defeat Spain's Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to book his place in the last-eight.

Djokovic, 31, held off some early pressure on serve but was in total control of the match throughout as he continues his bid for a second French Open title.

The big shock of the day saw Belgian eighth seed eliminated in four sets by Italian world No 72 Marco Cecchinato, who faces Djokovic for a place in the semi-finals.

In the women's event, Madisan Keys kicked off a good day for the Americans with a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 win over Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu. The 13th seed raced through the opening set in just 23 minutes and while Buzarnescu produced more resistance in the second set, Keys was rarely troubled.

Keys faces Kazakhstan's world No 98 Yulia Putintseva, who produced the upset of the day to eliminate 26th seed Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic.

"Today I was very tough mentally," Putintseva said after the match. "It was a fourth-round match and everyone is playing good now. You just have to fight for every point."

Sloane Stephens doubled American representation in the last-eight by thrashing Estonia's Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-2 in just 54 minutes.