‘Tight and nervous,’ Thiem tops No. 1 Djokovic at ATP Finals

Dominic Thiem thought profitable his first Grand Slam title on the U.S. Open would make him calmer within the tensest moments of the most important matches. He realized in his ATP Finals showdown with No. 1 Novak Djokovic how fallacious that notion was.

Nonetheless, after frittering away 4 match factors of their semifinal Saturday as a result of he was “tight and nervous” throughout a second-set tiebreaker, Thiem gathered himself. He finally reeled off seven of the match’s final eight factors to get to the ultimate of the season-ending championship.

The No. 3-ranked Thiem ended Djokovic’s bid for a record-tying sixth ATP Finals title, coming by 7-5, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5) after trailing 4-Zero within the concluding tiebreaker.

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“What he did from 0-Four within the third-set tiebreaker was simply unreal,” stated Djokovic, a 17-time Grand Slam champion. “I don’t suppose I performed unhealthy. … He simply crushed the ball and every part went in.”

When it ended with Djokovic crusing a forehand lengthy, Thiem dropped his racket and coated his face together with his palms.

Thiem may have closed issues greater than an hour earlier. However within the earlier tiebreaker, Thiem acknowledged, “I used to be mentally not that sturdy.”

His 300th profession match win put him within the closing of the season-ending event for the second straight 12 months; he was the runner-up to Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2019.

No. 2 Rafael Nadal was scheduled to face No. Four Daniil Medvedev within the second semifinal. Not one of the final three males within the area has gained the event, which means there will probably be a sixth totally different champion over the previous six years, the longest such stretch since 1974-79.

It’s the primary time since 2004 that the highest 4 gamers within the rankings crammed the 4 semifinal slots for the ATP Finals. This 12 months’s group is kind of a quartet: They gained the previous 10 Grand Slam titles and the final 9 Masters 1000 trophies.

Djokovic, already assured of ending the 12 months ranked No. 1 for a record-tying sixth time, was making an attempt to match Roger Federer’s mark of six ATP Finals trophies.

In Saturday’s rematch of February’s Australian Open closing, by which Djokovic beat Thiem in 5 units, there have been loads of lengthy baseline exchanges on the indoor laborious courtroom — the place issues have been quiet as a result of spectators have 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 type of to take a 6-5 lead within the opening set.

Within the second, Thiem’s ace put him forward 6-5 within the tiebreaker, one level from victory.

However 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.

“I used to be, like, so tight in my complete physique,” Thiem stated.

The third was at 9-8, when he pushed a down-the-line forehand vast. At 10-9, Djokovic erased No. Four with a forehand that landed proper on a line.

That started a three-point run by Djokovic to steal the set and delay the match.

Thiem regrouped, although, to develop into solely the second man with not less than 5 victories every towards the Huge Three of Djokovic (5-7 profession mark), Federer (5-2) and Nadal (6-9). Andy Murray is the opposite.

“That’s tremendous particular to me,” Thiem stated. “Each single match towards them is a big privilege. It is an enormous alternative to study. In case you beat these guys, it provides you an enormous enhance of confidence.”

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