ATP Monte Carlo: Dusan Lajovic hands Dominic Thiem exit ticket!

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ATP Monte Carlo: Dusan Lajovic hands Dominic Thiem exit ticket!

Roland Garros finalist and one of the best players on clay in the last couple of seasons, Dominic Thiem has not been able to find the 'A game' on his favorite surface so far in 2019. The Austrian had a mediocre South American swing in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro and that poor run will stay alive at least until Barcelona, bowing out in the third round of Monte Carlo after a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Dusan Lajovic in an hour and 32 minutes.

Dominic and Dusan had played five times before (all on clay) and the Austrian was always the winner, dropping just one set before this pale performance from today, struggling on both the first and second serve and giving serve away five times.

Standing stronger in the pivotal points, Lajovic fended of seven out of nine break points and outplayed Thiem with 21 winners and 23 unforced errors, leaving the Austrian on just ten direct points and almost 30 mistakes.

Dusan had the advantage in the shortest and most extended rallies for only the fourth top-10 win and the second Masters 1000 quarter-final after Madrid last year. The Serb settled into a nice rhythm right from the start, taking eight of the first nine points and repelling a break point in game three to forge a 3-0 advantage.

A volley winner secured another break for the Serb in game four and he found himself 5-0 up after just 21 minutes, dominating on the court so far and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter. Dominic pulled one break back at 1-5 and saved three set points in game eight before Dusan closed the opener with a hold at love for a 6-3 after 41 minutes.

The Austrian fought back in the fourth game of the second set when he opened a 3-1 lead, only to drop the next five games and propel Lajovic into the quarters, losing ground and never looking like a player who believed in triumph.

Dusan got back on the positive side of the scoreboard with a forehand winner in game five, hitting even better one at 3-3 to move in front and sealing the deal with the third straight break in the ninth game to book the place in the last eight.