Dominic Thiem def. Adrian Mannarino match highlights (3R)
Dominic Thiem takes victory against Adrian Mannarino in round three of the men's singles.
Dominic Thiem has heard it all before – a Grand Slam champion in the making, a young star with the arsenal to go all the way.
While flattering, they’re the type of compliments that can start to wear thin as the wait grows.
With his robust game, in which his big wind-ups off both wings launch him off the ground with each whipping strike, the Austrian has already established himself as the second-best claycourter out there behind Rafael Nadal.
He was the only man to defeat the world No.1 on clay last year, in Rome.
But after back-to-back semifinals at Roland Garros, Thiem has had enough.
It’s time, he reckons, to make a deeper run at a major outside the French capital.
After a high-quality 6-4 6-2 7-5 dismissal of 29th-seeded lefty Adrian Mannarino to reach the Australian Open fourth round on Saturday, he looks ready to do so at Melbourne Park.
Modestly swatting aside his potential, Thiem was keen to put his results on the biggest stages in perspective.
“I’ve only gone twice further than the fourth round so I’m a little bit tired of it,” Thiem said. “I want to go further than the fourth round. I will give everything to do it here … on Monday.”
Thiem had never fallen to Mannarino in six prior meetings, and hadn’t dropped a set to him since 2015.
And on Saturday, his shot-making quality was high from the get-go on Margaret Court Arena.
After struggling back from two sets down against qualifier Denis Kudla in the second round this was a sharper, more assured performance.
Cruising comfortably – up two sets and with a break in hand – the 24-year-old’s only blip came when he allowed Mannarino to break back for 2-2.
But once games were locked up at 5-all, it was the Frenchman who faltered, with a double fault limply surrendering a break to love and allowing the Austrian to serve out a place in the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the second year running.
“I think I didn’t lose a match yet here so I hope the next match will be on this court as well,” Thiem said, before elaborating on his unbeaten streak against his latest victim.
“It was 7-0, but it’s been some very close matches.
“I knew from the start I had to play very well to beat him and I think I did it.”
With former champion Stan Wawrinka hobbling out in the second round, Thiem’s chances at reaching a maiden quarterfinal at Melbourne Park have never looked better. He will next meet world No.86 Tennys Sandgren.
He will do well to block out memories of a capitulation in the fourth round at last year’s US Open, where he let a two-set lead slip and two match points against Juan Martin del Potro.
If a long season was taking its toll mentally in 2017, that loss only compounded matters.
Thiem went on to lose his next three matches and fell twice at the ATP Finals in London to close out his season.
Melbourne Park would be the ideal setting to fast lay those demons to rest.