French Open: Dominic Thiem cruises past Marin Cilic
Photo: Reuters

Dominic Thiem has won his eighth consecutive match at a Grand Slam, defeating Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the French Open. The Austrian was back in action at a major after claiming the US Open just two weeks ago, where he defeated the Croat in four sets in the third round on his way to the title.

Thiem sharp in first match on clay in 2020, turns back Cilic to advance

After exchanging breaks to open the match, both men settled down on serve, holding easily and getting into a good rhythm over the next six games. At 4-4, Cilic fell behind 0-30, pulled back the deficit and missed on a forehand after excellent defense by Thiem.

On break point, the Croat missed badly with a backhand to hand the third seed the break. Serving for the set at 5-4, Thiem fell behind 0-40, only to see Cilic beat himself with five unforced errors and the Austrian was up a set.

Thiem's quest for a second straight major title got off to a strong start/Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Thiem's quest for a second straight major title got off to a strong start/Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

The run of games continued for the three-time Roland Garros finalist as he broke to open the second set after Cilic missed on his backahnd side again. He consolidated his advantage with a hold to make it five games on the trot to go ahead 2-0. Cilic did well to stay in the set, saving two break points in the fifth game.

Thiem was cruising on his serve and he stood a game from the set at 5-3 with the two major winners engaging in the longest game of the match, 12 points and two set points saved by Cilic, a third opportunity was afforded to the Austrian and he duly took it, crushing a backhand up the line that got a weak reply for a two-set advantage.

It was Cilic who got the quick start in the third set, taking a 2-0 lead. Thiem responded, breaking back in the fourth game and after a hold put him ahead 3-2, he broke after the Croat missed a volley off of a backhand that was preceded by an overhead.

Cilic was undone by a rash of unforced errors at the most critical times/Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Cilic was undone by a rash of unforced errors at the most critical times/Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Both men held easily to make the score 5-3 and Thiem would serve for the match. He handed Cilic a way back into the set with a missed forehand volley that gave the world number 40 a break point. After saving that, he clinched the match after two hours, five minutes of play when the Croat missed a backhand.

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