Djokovic sails through, Thiem beats Bublik's underarm tactics
Novak Djokovic coasted in to round three of the French Open on Thursday, while Dominic Thiem came through a tricky encounter with Alexander Bublik.
Just as he did in his opener, Djokovic won in straight sets. The top seed saw off Henri Laaksonen 6-1 6-4 6-3 in just over an hour and a half on Court Suzanne-Lenglen to book a meeting with qualifier Salvatore Caruso, who beat Gilles Simon 6-1 6-2 6-4.
Clay-court specialist Thiem twice fought from 4-1 down in sets against Bublik but was only successful in the fourth set, when he sealed a 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 7-5 triumph.
Alexander Zverev swept aside Mikael Ymer in straight sets and Gael Monfils came out on top 6-3 6-4 6-4 against fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, but eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro required the full five to get past Yoshihito Nishioka.
There were also wins for Fabio Fognini, Borna Coric and Karen Khachanov, while Fernando Verdasco fell to Antoine Hoang and Kyle Edmund retired in the third set of his meeting with Pablo Cuevas due to a knee injury.
DJOKOVIC IN THE ZONE
Djokovic's quest to become the first man in the Open Era to hold all four grand slams on two separate occasions remains on track.
After breezing through an encounter with Laaksonen, he explained how his approach at majors has enabled him to enjoy such success.
"I think it's about the mindset, you know, where do you put your priorities? What is the goal? What is the strategy, how you want to reach that goal?" he said.
"These are the tournaments where I aim to play my best, so probably that kind of mindset allowed me to shine always at the biggest events."
Focus on Novak Djokovic, world numero 1 and Roland-Garros 2016 champion.— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 30, 2019
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BUBLIK'S UNDERARM TACTICS
Thiem was bested a couple of times by underarm serves from Bublik, who kept him on his toes during an entertaining encounter.
The Austrian, runner-up at Roland Garros last year, recovered from 5-2 down in the fourth set to secure his 50th win in grand slam competitions.
Speaking about Bublik's unorthodox serves, he said: "I expected it. To be honest, it's a good choice against players like us who are that far behind the baseline.
"There is nothing bad about it. And I was prepared for that, so that was no problem."
ZVEREV CUTS IT SHORT
After his hopes of winning a first major at Roland Garros last year were hindered by playing three five-set matches in his opening four outings, Zverev looked set for more of the same after he went the distance against John Millman in his 2019 opener.
However, the German got past Ymer 6-1 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to record just his second straight-sets win in main-draw action at the competition.
Next up for him is Monte Carlo Masters finalist Dusan Lajovic, who ousted Elliot Benchetrit.
DEL POTRO DIGS DEEP
Having struggled with injuries in recent years, when Del Potro requests treatment there is always an element of concern.
The Argentine had to have his right knee - the one in which he suffered a fractured patella in October - taped up after dropping the first set in an enthralling clash with Nishioka.
Del Potro dug deep, though, and somehow managed to emerge triumphant 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 after a gruelling three hours and 46 minutes.