The last year's Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem had to dig deep for the second time this week in Paris, ousting thundering Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5 in two and a half hours, barely escaping the deciding set and more drama.
The Kazakh player threw everything he had in his arsenal at Thiem, with booming serves, touchy drop shots, slices, volleys (he rushed to the net around 70 times) and flat attacking strokes that took the rhythm out of the Austrian completely, wasting two set points in the fourth set that could have kept him in the match and the tournament more.
The youngster landed 51 winners but also 50 unforced errors, missing some crucial volleys and allowing Thiem to make a comeback and seal the deal without spending more time on the court. The Austrian delivered more measured numbers, with 35 winners and just 16 unforced errors on the tally, getting broken only twice and scoring five breaks to move over the top and set the third-round encounter with Pablo Cuevas.
Dominic made a convincing start, finding the range behind the initial shot and taking 12 of the first 14 points to create the lead that carried him towards 6-3. Alexander opened a 5-2 advantage in set number two, losing serve in game nine while serving for the set and taking it 8-6 in the breaker after fending off a set point at 5-6.
A single break for Thiem in game eight decided the winner of the third set but Bublik was far from beaten, hammering his strokes to race into a 5-2 lead in the fourth set, with two set points up for grabs on the return in the next game.
Dominic saved those and gained a massive boost, winning the last five points of the match to grab the set 7-5 and secure the place in the next round against a very tricky opponent. An in-form Pablo Cuevas celebrated the 19th Grand Slam win when Kyle Edmund was forced to retire while trailing 7-6, 6-3, 2-1, dealing with an ongoing knee injury that has pretty much ruined his season so far.
A qualifier Salvatore Caruso never won a Grand Slam match before this week and will compete in the third round now, ousting the 26th seed Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes. Furious about his performance, the French veteran managed to convert only one out of nine break points, spraying more than 40 unforced errors in comparison to a tamed performance from the Italian who did everything right on the court, taking almost half of the return points and converting six out of 13 break points to control the scoreboard all the time.
The 30th seed Dusan Lajovic toppled Elliot Benchetrit 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 38 minutes, losing serve once and dominating on the return for the 15th Grand Slam triumph. World no. 5 and last year's quarter-finalist Alexander Zverev had to work hard in the opening round against John Millman, scoring more comfortable 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 win over a qualifier and fellow youngster Mikael Ymer in two hours.
The German played an excellent match for two and a half sets before things became ugly in the closing stages of the third, suffering a break while serving for the triumph at 5-4 but sealing the deal with a good performance in the tie break for the 27th Grand Slam victory.