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Thiem Safely Through In Melbourne

In a meeting of Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finalists, Dominic Thiem got the better of Guido Pella 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to successfully launch his bid for a first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Thiem, appearing for the first time since withdrawing in Doha with a viral infection, booked his place in the second round for a third straight year. Having saved all six break points he faced in the two-hour, 16-minute encounter, Thiem will face Denis Kudla in the second round after the American defeated compatriot Steve Johnson 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-2

Dominic Thiem saves all six break points faced en route to Australian Open win on Tuesday.
Competing at his highest ever Grand Slam seeding of No. 5, Thiem found himself down break point in his opening service game, but would navigate his way out of danger before eventually jumping ahead in the score with a break to lead 4-3. That would be enough to seal the set as the Austrian served it out on his third set point in a tricky, extended tenth game.

The fifth and six games would prove the key to success in the second set, with both men holding two break point opportunities. Thiem converted, Pella did not. The World No. 5 broke to hold off the challenge of the Argentine, before once again navigating a tricky hold when serving out the set.

Pella, who led Thiem 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series coming into the match, held to love to start the third set, but hopes of rallying for a third win over his higher-ranked opponent would be short-lived. Thiem broke serve in the third game and kept the set firmly in his grip, before eventually serving out the set - once again saving break point on the way.

Tomas Berdych put the disappointment of a first-round loss in Doha behind him to notch his first win of the 2018 ATP World Tour season, defeating Australian wild card Alex de Minaur 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-1.

The Czech split 6-3 sets with Sydney International finalist de Minaur prior to winning 12 of the last 13 games to reach the second round for a 13th consecutive year. The 32-year-old will meet Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who also recorded his first win of the 2018 ATP World Tour season to beat an in-form Benoit Paire 6-0, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-4.

The Spaniard ended Paire’s strong start to the 2018 ATP World Tour season, which saw the Frenchman reach back-to-back semi-finals, first at the Tata Open Maharashtra and then the following week in Sydney.

French 29th seed Richard Gasquet was also successful on day two, defeating Blaz Kavcic 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and five minutes. The 31-year-old will next meet qualifier Lorenzo Sonego who upset Robin Haase 6-3 7-5 6-7(6) 7-5.

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