Dominic Thiem reserved his place in a second successive ATP Finals confrontation by beating quadruple champion Novak Djokovic in a magnificent clash on Saturday. (More tennis news)
Thiem beat Djokovic in three sets en route to the 2019 final, which he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas, but the US Open champion let four match points slip into the second set in London this time around.
His luck was not gone, however, as a two-hour, 54-minute fight was settled after Thiem had six straight runs to recover from 4-0 in the second of two tie-breakers.
Djokovic curled a forehand over the baseline for the deciding point to go down 7-5 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (7-5), failing to convert a single point breaking throughout the game.
For Thiem, a 300th career victory ensured a return to the final against Daniil Medvedev or Rafael Nadal.
Thiem had to serve to stay in the first set at 5-4, landing a sensational lob just inside the baseline to elicit applause from Djokovic.
He picked up the momentum from there and took his first break point when he dropped the ball to his opponent’s toes, then won the set with some searing serves.
Djokovic looked to retaliate quickly, but Thiem quickly got another break point in Game 5 of the second set, though a botched forehand gave the Serbian a reprieve.
Incoming rocket …
It’s a thing of beauty, @ThiemDomi!
– ATP Tour (@atptour) November 21, 2020
Thiem was briefly on the back foot and came up with a supreme backhand on the line for a grip before pushing Djokovic back two more times to reach a breaker.
A back-and-forth affair saw Thiem take a two-point lead, then fight 4-2, before a brilliant pair of serves resulted in an opening match point that Djokovic saved.
A second went begging thanks to a double fault as each man struggled on the serve, with two more opportunities slipping away before the world’s best player claimed the set on the fourth attempt.
Chances were scarce for the decider, although a superb comeback from Djokovic drew Thiem’s appreciation at 4-4 as the pair headed for another breaker.
Thiem’s chances looked slim when Djokovic took the 4-0 lead, but six straight points put victory within reach and the world number three enjoyed his sixth match point.
WINNERS / FORCED ERRORS
Thiem – 47/35
Djokovic – 19/25
ACES / DOUBLE FAULT
Thiem – 12/5
Djokovic – 5/0
BREAKING POINTS EARNED
Thiem – 1/2
Djokovic – 0/3
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