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ATP Finals Day 3: Thiem stuns Djokovic in classic to reach semi-finals

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 13 Nov 2019
  • Thiem edges Djokovic in epic ATP Finals clash to make semi-finals for the first time
  • Djokovic will face Federer for the other semi-final spot from Group Bjorn Borg
Dominic Thiem celebrates beating Novak Djokovic (PA Images)

Dominic Thiem defeated Novak Djokovic in one of the matches of the season at the O2 Arena on Tuesday night, leaving the World No. 2 with a must-win clash against record six-time ATP Finals champion Roger Federer if he is to reach the semi-finals.

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Thiem produced a ‘special’ and ‘unforgettable’ performance to conquer Djokovic in a sublime contest, coming back from 1-4 down in the deciding set tiebreak to emerge triumphant by a 6-7(5) 6-3 7-6(5) scoreline in two hours and 47 minutes.

It was simply fearless tennis from Thiem, who fired 50 winners past Djokovic with bludgeoning groundstrokes off both wings, with his audacious approach complimented by just 44 unforced errors.

Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic (PA Images)
The win propels Thiem into the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time in his career after the Austrian beat Roger Federer in straight sets in his opening Group Born Bjorn match on Sunday.

"This was really one of these special matches, what I’ve practised all my life for, all my childhood for,” Thiem said. “Really epic one in an amazing atmosphere, beating a legend of our game. And also I’ve qualified for the semi-finals, which is the best.
"Coming back from 1/4 [in the tie-break] was a little bit of luck, but it was an unbelievable match and one I’ll never forget. Novak is the best player in the world and I had to do something special.”

Djokovic was 3-0 against Thiem on hardcourts coming into the contest, and after making just two unforced errors to edge the opening set in a tiebreak, the Serbian would have been confident of making it four.

However, there was nothing Djokovic could do to stop the relentless onslaught of power coming off Thiem’s racquet, with the Serbian forced into 19 more unforced errors over the next two sets.

Djokovic paid tribute to Thiem’s blistering performance in his post-match press conference, describing it as ‘unbelievable’.

“I don't think I have experienced too many matches like this where my opponent just goes for every single shot,” Djokovic said.
“He was unbelievable and in some stages it was just incredible that he was just literally smacking the ball as hard as he can and (it) was going in.”

Roger Federer celebrates after victory in the Mens Singles group match against Matteo Berrettini during the Mens Single group match on day three of the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 Arena, London.
Djokovic remains 440 points behind Nadal in the race for the year-end No. 1 ranking, with the Spaniard set to face Daniil Medvedev in a rematch of the U.S. Open final on Wednesday.

In order to have a chance of reclaiming the No. 1 ranking, Djokovic must beat Federer in a de facto quarter-final showdown on Thursday night, with the winner to progress to the semi-finals.

Federer was also beaten by Thiem in London, but the Swiss bounced back strongly in his second Group Bjorn Borg match earlier on Tuesday, overcoming the big-serving Matteo Berrettini in straight sets, 7-6(2) 6-3.

”It’s unusual to lose and then come back to play again, but I did it last year, so I have some experience,” Federer joked. “I’m very happy with how I played today. Matteo was always going to be difficult with his big serve… I was pretty clean in my own service games and I think that helped today. I hope I can keep it up and maybe even play a bit better in the next match.”

Djokovic leads the head-to-head with Federer 26-22 and has won their last four meetings, with Federer’s last victory coming back in the 2015 ATP Finals round robin phase.

Their last two matches have seen Djokovic emerge victorious in a deciding set tiebreak at Wimbledon this season and the 2018 Paris Masters.


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ATP Finals Day 3: Thiem stuns Djokovic in classic to reach semi-finals

Dominic Thiem defeated Novak Djokovic in one of the matches of the season at the O2 Arena on Tuesday night, leaving the World No. 2 with a must-win clash against record six-time ATP Finals champion Roger Federer if he is to reach the semi-finals.

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