Paris: Dominic Thiem underlined his burgeoning reputation by dismantling Australia's Bernard Tomic in straight sets in the opening round of the French Open on Sunday.
The Austrian, seen as an outside contender for the title after reaching last year's semi-finals at Roland Garros, powered past Tomic 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 in just 80 minutes.
"It was very hot out there, so I'm happy that I won in three sets," said 23-year-old Thiem.
"It was a tough opponent and a close first set, I guess. I was also a little bit nervous before the match, I have to say, and because of these circumstances I'm happy with my performance."
Sixth-seeded Thiem is the only player to defeat nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal on clay this season and will play Italian qualifier Simone Bolelli or Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in round two.
Tomic succumbed to a fifth first-round exit in eight appearances in Paris and rued a nightmare draw.
"After Rafa (Nadal), he's playing the best tennis this year on clay. And for everybody, I think he's a top three player on clay now. And he's not a player you want in the first round," said Tomic.
"He's been playing well, and really no chance today. He killed me from the start.
"I think game-wise on clay he's at a different level to me for sure."
Experience triumphs over youth
The oldest man in the singles draw at the French Open prevailed over one of the youngest. The 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic, who is also known for his big serve and 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) stature, advanced to the second round with a 7-6 (5), 7-5, 6-4 win over teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas.
"I did not know anything about him, so was trying to look around a little bit on the Internet," Karlovic said. "I did not really know what to expect and he can hit really hard with his forehand and backhand. But I did not really give him chances to hit a lot."
Tsitsipas, who will turn 19 in August, played for the first time in the main draw after coming through qualifying. The Greek's inexperience sometimes showed against Karlovic, hitting a double fault to lose the opening set and another one on match point.
"I'm a nice guy, I don't want to give lessons to younger guys," Karlovic said when asked about his 20-year age difference with Tsitsipas. "He is a little bit unexperienced but he'll have a very good career."
The youngest male player in Paris this year is 18-year-old Alex De Minaur.
Dimitrov into second round
Grigor Dimitrov won his first match in four years at Roland Garros to reach the second round of the clay-court major.
Dimitrov made light work of veteran Frenchman Stephane Robert to win 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier, ending a four-match losing run in Paris.
The 11th-seeded Bulgarian, who was once regarded as a potential future No 1, has never fared well at the French Open. He achieved his best result on the red clay in 2013 when he made it to the third round.
Dimitrov lost his opening match on his Paris debut back in 2011 and was also beaten in the first round over the past three years.
"It was a good test," Dimitrov said. "I knew what to expect, I just had to fight."
In the women's draw, former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Christina McHale of the United States in straight sets to reach the second round of the French Open.
The eighth-seeded Kuznetsova, who won the tournament in 2009, triumphed 7-5, 6-4, sealing the result on the last of her three match points.
The 31-year-old Russian will face either Camila Giorgi or Oceane Dodin in the second round.
It is the fifth successive year that McHale has gone out in the first round at Roland Garros.
With inputs from AFP and AP
Published Date: May 28, 2017 22:52 PM | Updated Date: May 28, 2017 22:52 PM