MELBOURNE (Reuters) – After losing in the first round of the last two Grand Slams, Australian Open fifth seed Dominic Thiem was a relieved man on Tuesday as he cruised into the second round at Melbourne Park with a 6-3 7-5 6-2 win over France’s Adrian Mannarino.
The 26-year-old Austrian, who reached the final at Roland Garros last year before his early exits at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows, said his eighth successive win over the Frenchman was a “step in the right direction”.
“Each win is nice, because every single player in the main draw is amazing, is a player with a very high level,” Thiem told reporters after his win on Margaret Court Arena.
“And as we could see in the last two Slams, every victory is hard work. So I’m happy that I got this one, and I hope that I can keep up the good level.”
Thiem downplayed his chances in the year’s opening Grand Slam but said a coaching change and hard-court victories over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in November had given him more confidence.
In January, his coaching team was joined by former Austrian world number one Thomas Muster, who Thiem credited with bringing “good intensity” to his practice sessions.
“I was playing great in the practice week, but it’s something very different coming into the first match with all the pressure, with all the tension in it,” Thiem said.
“So I think that today was a very good match and
good step in the right direction.”
Thiem wobbled midway through the second set when he was broken and allowed Mannarino to level at 4-4, but he recovered quickly and proved strong in the longer rallies, including a 28-shot stunner, to break Mannarino’s serve towards the end of the set.
Thiem sealed victory with his seventh ace after two hours and 21 minutes to set up a meeting with either Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Australian wildcard Alex Bolt.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Peter Rutherford)