Saturday, Nov 21, 2020. 12:27 PM
(Update : Saturday, Nov 21, 2020. 6:01 PM)
LONDON – Dominic Thiem will make the ATP finals, having struggled to defeat Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-7 (10) and 7-6 (5) in the semi-finals on Saturday.
He will face in the final Daniil Medvedev, who for his part defeated Rafael Nadal 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Nadal, world No. 2, has never won this end-of-season Masters.
“It’s wonderful that we managed to beat two of the greatest players in the history of the sport,” commented Medvedev. It’s great for tennis. “
Neither Thiem nor Medvedev has won this tournament yet, which means that a sixth different player will be crowned champion in the past six years; the longest streak of its kind since 1974-79.
Thiem, the third-largest player in the world, clinched the victory after a 2-hour and 54-minute marathon on the grounds of the O2 Arena in London. At the same time, he increased his career record against the world No. 1 to 7-5 in favor of the Serb, who was trying to equal a record by coveting a sixth title in the ATP finals.
“I have to admit I was tense and nervous at the start of the game,” admitted the winner.
He became the second player to have at least five career wins against Djokovic, Rafael Nadal (6-9) and Roger Federer (5-2). Briton Andy Murray is the other.
“It’s very special,” Thiem said. Every game against them is a huge privilege. It’s a golden opportunity to learn. If you beat these guys, then you gain confidence. “
Thiem could have sealed the outcome of the meeting an hour earlier, but he chickened out when he let four match points in the second set tiebreaker – including one due to a double fault.
The United States Open champion then trailed 4-0 in the final tiebreaker, but gained seven of the last eight points to secure the victory. After watching Djokovic come back too long, Thiem dropped his racket and buried his face in his hands.
“It was a real mental battle,” Thiem said.
“What he did 0-4 in the third set tiebreaker was incredible,” said Djokovic, holder of 17 career Grand Slam titles. I didn’t play badly … He was very powerful, and all his shots hit the lines. “
The Austrian, who at the same time signed his 300th career victory, lost in the final of this tournament last year to the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. He will try to secure his first ATP Finals title on Sunday.
Thiem will face for the title the winner of the other semi-final which will oppose the Russian Daniil Medvedev and Nadal at the end of the day on Saturday.
None of them have won this tournament before, which means that a sixth different tennis player will be crowned champions in the past six years – the longest streak of its kind since 1974-79.
This is the first time since 2004 – when Federer, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin were in attendance – that the top four players in the ATP standings have qualified for the semi-finals of this competition.
This year’s quartet was quite impressive: they won the last 10 Grand Slam titles and the last 9 Masters 1000 series tournaments.