Dominic Thiem ended Novak Djokovic’s bid for a file-tying sixth ATP Finals title, beating the highest-ranked participant 7-5, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5) in the semifinals Saturday by grabbing seven of the final eight factors.
Thiem may have closed issues greater than an hour earlier, however he frittered away 4 match factors in the second-set tiebreaker, together with one by double-faulting.
Then the U.S. Open champion trailed 4-0 in the final tiebreaker earlier than turning issues round. When it ended with Djokovic crusing a forehand lengthy, Thiem dropped his racket and coated his face together with his fingers.
“It was, for sure, a mental battle,” Thiem mentioned.
The No. 3-ranked Thiem’s three hundredth profession match win put him in the ultimate of the season-ending match for the second straight 12 months; he was runner-as much as Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2019.
No. 2 Rafael Nadal was scheduled to face No. 4 Daniil Medvedev in Saturday’s second semifinal. The closing is Sunday. None of the final three males in the sector has gained the match, that means there will likely be a sixth completely different champion over the past six years, the longest such stretch since 1974-79.
It’s the primary time since 2004 — when Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin did it — that the highest 4 gamers in the rankings stuffed the 4 semifinal slots for the ATP Finals.
This 12 months’s group is sort of a quartet: They mixed to win the past 10 Grand Slam males’s singles titles and the final 9 Masters 1000 trophies.
Djokovic, already assured of ending the 12 months ranked No. 1 for a file-tying sixth time, was making an attempt to match Federer’s mark of six ATP Finals trophies. A title additionally would have made Djokovic, at 33, the oldest champion in match historical past; Federer was 30 in 2011.
In Saturday’s rematch of February’s Australian Open closing, in which Djokovic beat Thiem in 5 units, there have been loads of lengthy baseline exchanges on the indoor laborious courtroom — the place issues had been quiet as a result of spectators had been banned because of the coronavirus pandemic — and few break probabilities for both participant.
Thiem confronted three break factors and saved all of them, fairly an achievement towards supreme returner Djokovic. And whereas Thiem managed to provide solely a pair of break factors, he used a kind of to take a 6-5 lead in the opening set.
In the second, Thiem’s ace put him forward 6-5 in the tiebreaker, one level from victory.
But Djokovic saved that preliminary probability with a 127 mph service winner. Thiem’s subsequent alternative to win got here at 7-6, however he double-faulted. The third was at 9-8, when he pushed a down-the-line forehand large. And then, at 10-9, Djokovic erased No. 4 with a forehand that landed proper on a line.
That started a 3-level run by Djokovic to steal the set and delay the match. He wanted 4 set factors in all to take action, however got here by when Thiem netted a backhand.
Afterward, Thiem acknowledged he was “tight and nervous” in that part. He regrouped, although, and got here by in the clutch an hour later.
Thiem is now solely the second man with at least 5 victories every towards Djokovic (5-7 profession mark), Nadal (6-9) and Federer (5-2). Andy Murray is the opposite.