Quarterfinal action at the French Open 2018 commenced on Tuesday afternoon with the highly anticipated showdown between the number two seed Alexander Zverev and the only player on the tour to have beaten Rafael Nadal on clay this season, Dominic Thiem. The pair has contested six matches against one another to date, with Thiem leading the head to head 4-2. Of those six encounters, four matches were played on clay and Zverev has been able to win only one of these matches. However, he achieved that sole triumph over Thiem on clay at their most recent encounter in Madrid where the young German won his third Masters 1000 crown in less than twelve months.
Despite his slightly higher ranking and recent success on the red dirt, oddsmakers regard Thiem as the favorite going into the match. It should be noted that Zverev was forced to go the full distance over five exhausting sets in all of his three previous rounds.
The tournament’s official twitter fed the fan’s excitation in advance of the quarterfinal clash:
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 5, 2018
As the match kicked off, both players held serve comfortably and rallies remained short throughout the first half of the opening set. A few untimely forehand errors off of Zverev’s racket brought about the first break points of the match for the eighth seed which the Austrian converted with a crushing backhand winner cross court to go up 4-3. While Thiem’s serve gained consistency, Zverev continued to struggle with occasional ground stroke errors as the German tried to keep exchanges as short as possible. Despite having taken pace off of his serve initially to improve his percentages, Thiem sealed the first set with a crushing ace cross court 6-4.
Ceding the first set left Zverev with visible frustration and he did not manage to stabilize his error count. Thiem quickly went up 2-1. The Austrian fought off a break point in the following game and established a 3-1 lead. Zverev’s performance deteriorated further in the next game as it became apparent that pain in his lower left thigh hampered his movement on court. Fittingly, Zverev forfeited another service game to Thiem with a backhand error into the net. The number seven seed easily held serve in the next game to bring himself within striking distance of securing a two sets to none lead. Zverev relied on his serve to put up some resistance to Thiem’s ever tighter grip on the match. After one hour and fourteen minutes of play Thiem went up by two sets to none as he watched a Zverev return sail long, winning the second set 6-2.