Dominic Thiem fends off ferocious Benoit Paire fightback to make second round
Dominic Thiem won a five-set marathon against Benoit Paire 6-4 6-3 7-5 1-6 6-3 to progress to the second round of the Australian Open on Margaret Court Arena.
Paire had kept pace with the Austrian for most of the first set, but fell away in the second, much to his own frustration and the disappointment of the crowd as he slumped two sets behind, a 6-4, 6-3 disadvantage telling the story of the early part of the match.
Thiem held his nerve impressively to recoup two set points in the third, but Paire benefited from a touch of luck when the net-cord helped him to break serve and force a fourth set as the clock ticked past 1am.
It was Paire who blazed through that fourth as well, taking it 6-1 with former French Open finalist Thiem looking increasingly tired.
The decider was tight, staying with serve in the opening stages; but as Thiem renewed his effort, and as Paire's legs looked fatigued, the Austrian broke in the eighth game to serve for the match.
The relieved Austrian will face Alexei Popyrin in the next round.