Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem. Image Credit: Reuters

Melbourne: Two-time French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem is into the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, which is an all-new experience for him.

He could face a familiar foe next, though. So he planned to be kicking back on the couch watching TV later Monday when top-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 23 Nick Kyrgios met in a night match.

The fifth-seeded Thiem beat No. 10 Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena to extend his winning streak to six against the mercurial Frenchman.

“I played my best match so far. Very, very good feeling,” Thiem said.

After losing a second consecutive final at Roland Garros to Nadal in June, Thiem didn’t win another match at a Grand Slam tournament in 2019. He lost first-rounders at Wimbledon and the US Open, but has put together a run so far in Melbourne Park, where he’d previously reached the fourth round twice.

Having a day match, when the ball is moving quicker in the warm conditions than in the relative cool at night, worked well for Thiem.

Another first-time Melbourne quarter-finalist arrived on the women’s side: Anett Kontaveit rallied from a set and a break down to beat 18-year-old Iga Swiatek 6-7, 7-5, 7-5, despite being broken twice while serving for the match.

Kontaveit next plays two-time major champion and 2018 Australian Open runner-up Simona Halep. Another two-time Grand Slam title winner advanced to the quarter-finals when Garbine Muguruza eliminated No. 9 seed Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3.

Muguruza won the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon. She is unseeded at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since the 2014 French Open.

Now she’ll face Angelique Kerber _ the only past champion in Melbourne remaining the women’s field _ or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Kontaveit was 0-3 in her previous trips to the fourth round at majors, but this time was coming off a 6-0, 6-1 win over No. 6 Belinda Bencic.

“It was such a battle today. So happy I touched it out,” the 28th-seeded Kontaveit said. “I was just trying to stay as tough as I could, fight for every point.”

Halep beat Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-4 in the fourth round.

The third game lasted 16 points, with Halep finally converting her fourth break chance. Mertens broke back in the fifth game and fended off another two break points in another long hold before Halep went on a roll, winning six straight games to take control.

Halep’s two previous wins over Mertens were on clay, although the Belgian won their only other match on a hard court.

“Mentally,” Halep said, “I think I did a great job today.”