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Sport

Sock says Thiem worthy heir to Nadal but targets upset

(Reuters) - Jack Sock has no doubts about Dominic Thiem’s status as the heir apparent to Rafa Nadal on the Parisian clay but the American hopes he can cause an upset when the pair meet in the second round at Roland Garros on Wednesday.

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Austrian Thiem, beaten by 19-times Grand Slam champion Nadal in the final of the last two editions in Paris, is brimming with confidence after winning his first major at the U.S. Open earlier this month.

“I heard he’s pretty good on clay. I heard he played all right a few weeks ago in New York. I think he’s being called the new King of Clay after Nadal,” Sock told reporters.

“He loves it here. Had some amazing results here. Probably playing the best tennis of his life or some of, winning his first Grand Slam a few weeks ago.

“I also think I’m a good player. I’m going to stick to my patterns, my games, hopefully try to dictate points, control some of the match on my racket.”

Sock has lost three of his previous four meetings with Thiem - all on hard courts - and is seeking a first victory over the 27-year-old since 2016.

“If he’s doing that on his side of the court, moving you around, controlling points, it’s not going to be a very good day against him,” Sock added.

“I’ll have to do what I can to try to stick to my play and see how it goes.”

Nadal will also be in action on Wednesday against Sock’s compatriot Mackenzie McDonald while Alexander Zverev, runner-up to Thiem at Flushing Meadows, meets local favourite Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Serena Williams will resume her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title when she takes on Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria while 2018 champion Simona Halep faces fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.

Elina Svitolina, fresh from her triumph in Strasbourg, takes on Renata Zarazua of Mexico while 10th seed Victoria Azarenka meets Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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