MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Fifth seed Dominic Thiem kept his flawless record against Gael Monfils intact with a trouble-free 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory on Monday to reach his maiden Australian Open quarter-final.
Thiem, twice a French Open finalist, came into the fourth-round clash against the 10th seed having won all five of the matches they have previously played and did not face a single breakpoint against the Frenchman on the Rod Laver Arena.
“I think that I played my best match so far of this Australian Open. A very, very good feeling,” the Austrian said.
“The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and then was managing to hold my serve well. I’m so happy because I’m for the first time in the quarter-finals here.”
Thiem, who lost to Rafa Nadal both times in the title match at Roland Garros, converted four of his 14 breakpoint chances and hit 31 winners to seal the contest.
Monfils surprised Thiem with an underarm serve in the second set, which the Austrian was unable to return, but the world number five managed to chase down most of the drop shots that the Frenchman employed against him.
“I always played my best tennis against him, so maybe that’s one reason,” Thiem said of his 6-0 record against Monfils.
The 26-year-old will meet the winner of the blockbuster clash between top seed Nadal and local hope Nick Kyrgios, seeded 23rd, for a place in the semi-finals.
It will be the first singles meeting between the Spaniard and Kyrgios since last year’s Wimbledon when the temperamental Australian, who had previously described Nadal as a sore loser and “super salty”, lost in four sets.
Thiem, who also confirmed that since last year his mother has been getting a tattoo every time he wins a tournament, was keen to watch the contest between his potential next opponents.
“I couldn’t be happier to be done, to be in the quarter-finals and to watch that, relax from home. I’m also very excited for that match,” Thiem said.
“Obviously it’s going to be such an entertaining contest tonight and then also in two days, it doesn’t matter who I face.
“So I’m really excited to watch that match and may the better one win tonight.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford