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Nadal Beats Young Gun Thiem At Roland Garros; Plays Mayer In Third Round

Paris, France

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal beat 20-year-old Dominic Thiem on Thursday for a place in the third round.

World No. 1 and eight-time champion Rafael Nadal swept past the youngest player in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for a place in the Roland Garros third round.

Nadal defeated 20-year-old Dominic Thiem 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday afternoon to improve to 61-1 lifetime at the clay-court Grand Slam championship, which he first won in 2005 (d. Puerta).

“I played well," said Nadal. "I played the way that I would like to play… and I'm happy the way I returned today… I was a bit nervous at the beginning of the match.”

Nadal will next play Leonardo Mayer, who was the runner-up at the Royal Guard Open Chile (l. to Fognini) in February. Mayer defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. “He's very powerful when he serves [and hits his] forehand," said Nadal or Mayer. "His backhand is also really good. He's really dangerous as a player. I know him well.”

Watch Nadal vs. Thiem Highlights (Courtesy: French Tennis Federation)

World No. 57 Thiem was looking to become the lowest ranked player to defeat Nadal on clay since No. 73-placed Horacio Zeballos in the 2013 Vina del Mar final.

“It was a great feeling to play on this court [Philippe Chatrier],” said Thiem. “He has lost one match here in 10 years, so I knew that it was going be the biggest challenge in my tennis career.

Nadal, Thiem“In general, I didn't play bad… I did a lot of rookie mistakes, but against a player like him you always want to keep the points short. His game was pretty much what I expected. I hope that I can take a lot with me from this match.”

Nadal praised Thiem, saying, “[Dominic] will have his chances to become a top star and fight for these tournaments… I think that he has huge potential and he could be one of the players who is going to replace us. His tennis style is really good. What he could work on is his footwork and how he moves on the court. That's all.”

Nadal is attempting to become the first man in tennis history to win five straight Roland Garros titles. He has won 44 clay-court trophies, placing him No. 2 in the Open Era clay titles list behind Guillermo Vilas (46 titles).

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