|Rafael Nadal after beating Dominic Thiem, at Roland Garros, on Thursday
Paris: Rafael Nadal put one of the young pretenders firmly in his place at the French Open on Thursday, when he crushed talented Austrian Dominic Thiem with a masterly display to reach the third round.
The eight-time champion showed flashes of his intimidating best in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win that was tougher than the scoreline suggested, but was never seriously in doubt.
In women’s singles, Ana Ivanovic made short work of Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 7-5, 6-2. Though the Serb did face some resistance in the first set, with scores level till 5-5, Ana was able to raise her game by that one notch and never looked back again.
While world No.1 Nadal improved his Roland Garros record to 61-1, prospective semi-final opponent Andy Murray cruised into the third round by outclassing Marinko Matosevic.
Fifth seed David Ferrer, one of three players to beat Nadal on his favoured claycourts this season, also wasted little energy reaching the last 32, demolishing Italian Simone Bolelli 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.
After the seismic shock of defending champion Serena Williams’s second round exit on Wednesday, the women’s draw was relatively incident free on Day 5, with Jelena Jankovic among the seeds to progress. Perhaps wary of the 20-year-old Thiem’s reputation as a rising force in the men’s game, Nadal quickly stamped his authority on the Philippe Chatrier Court.
“He has completely everything to become a champion,” Nadal, who appeared to be getting in the groove, told reporters. “I think today I played a solid match, I knew that if I didn’t I would be in trouble.”
Nadal, who next faces Argentine Leonardo Mayer, is on a quarter final collision course with last year’s runner-up and compatriot Ferrer.
Seventh seed Andy Murray of Britain, the Wimbledon champion, produced a master class to win an entertaining, although one-sided, match at 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 against Matosevic, who was playing in the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time having previously lost 12 first round matches.
Wimbledon champion Murray, who will have a sterner test against Germany’s 28th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in round three, was inevitably quizzed yet again on who would be his next coach following his split with Ivan Lendl.
In the absence of the Williams sisters, both beaten on Wednesday, 15th seed Sloane Stephens raised American spirits by easing past Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-1, 6-3.
Stephens followed her teenage compatriot Taylor Townsend, who on Wednesday became the youngest player to go past the second round at Roland Garros since 2009.
The 21-year-old Stephens blazed through the opening set before running into a spot of bother midway through the second as Hercog upped her game but the American ended the contest on her second match point with a crosscourt forehand.
Sixth seed Jankovic was forced to battle hard in the first set by Japan’s Kurumi Nara before the Serbian former world No.1 raced away for a 7-5, 6-0. “It was not easy, she is returning a lot of balls and the court is heavy and the conditions are heavy,” Jankovic said.
Russian former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 27th seed, laboured to a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 win over Italian Camila Giorgi, setting up a meeting with former Wimbledon champion and Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova, a 6-4, 6-4 victor over New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic.
In the men’s draw, Croatian 16th seed Ivo Karlovic reached the third round with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win over Andreas Haider-Maurer.
American Donald Young knocked out Spanish 26th seed Feliciano Lopez in straight sets. “I have actually never won a match outside of the US on red clay. So to win two here at the French Open, it means a lot,” Young, once tipped as the future of US men’s tennis, said after reaching the third round.
He will play Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez next after he followed up nicely on his first-round defeat of third seed and Australian Open champion Wawrinka by beating France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic also backed up a big win. Having removed women’s third seed Li Na she survived an injury scare to beat American Alison Riske 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3.
It was a mixed day for India as Sania Mirza made it to the second round, but Rohan Bopanna's campaign came to an end in their respective doubles.
Sania and Cara Black, seeded fifth here, won their first round match against Daniela Hantuchova and Shahar Peer rather easily at 6-3, 6-3.
But it was the end of the road for the sixth seed Indo-Pak pair of Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq-Qureshi, who lost 3-6, 4-6 to Jonathan Erlich and Marcelo Melo.