(Writes through with quotes)
By Ossian Shine
PARIS, June 4 (Reuters) - As if by stealth, Dominic Thiem moved into the quarter-finals of the French Open on Sunday with another quietly devastating performance.
The Austrian sixth seed swept aside Horacio Zeballos 6-1 6-3 6-1 to book a last-eight clash with Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic thrashed the youngster 6-1 6-0 when they met in Rome last month. But what that score does not reveal is that Thiem was weakened having beaten claycourt king Rafa Nadal the previous round.
Certainly Thiem, who has lost all five of his previous meetings with the Serb, is showing no signs of concern.
“I have to change something compared to the last matches,” he said breezily. “Yeah, I also have some experience to play against him. I will talk to my coach, to my team.”
Dismissing the Rome drubbing, the 23-year-old added: ”I think it was a combination of everything. I played finals in Madrid before, and then already in the first two matches of Rome I felt that somehow I‘m getting more and more empty.
”Then against Rafa, yeah, I played with the last percents. It was amazing match, and the next day, I was just done.
“So I don’t think about this match too much.”
He had plenty of thoughts on his victory over Zeballos, though.
”It was great fun to play out there,“ he said. ”Perfect conditions in the big Lenglen court. I was enjoying basically every second of the match.
”The conditions here are almost perfect for my game. I like the balls a lot. I think you really feel the balls with the racket.
“I enjoy the whole tournament.”
On form, Thiem may be positioning himself as the main threat to Nadal winning a 10th crown here.
The pair could meet in the semis. (Editing by Rex Gowar and Pritha Sarkar)