ATP Finals: ATP Finals: Dominic Thiem outslugs Novak Djokovic to book a place in the title match | Tennis News – Times of India


In the opening Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, Dominic Thiem took Novak Djokovic the distance in their title-round clash. In the last tournament of a hurriedly patched-together season, the ATP Finals, the Austrian finished a job he started in Melbourne in January. Thiem put out Djokovic, the world No. 1, to make his second successive finals at the O2 Arena in London, coming through 7-5, 6-7 (10-12), 7-6 (7-5) in a little under three hours.
“It was a mental battle, I was so tight in the second set tie-break, playing for a finals here is very special,” the Austrian said after his 300th career victory.
Djokovic and Thiem went toe-for-toe in the opening set. If the Serb was sharp and relentless off the ground, the Austrian used his roaring power game to stunning effect, opening up the court with his single-handed backhand and wrapping it up with his forehand. The 27-year-old sent down his first double fault in the tenth game of the match, when serving to stay in the set. That’s how tidy the duo had kept the contest.

In the following game, a Thiem forehand eked out the first breakpoint of the match. Djokovic responded with a tame volley that put the Austrian in the front. Thiem then served out the set after 51 minutes of action.
Djokovic, looking increasingly rattled as the match wore on, muttering and gesturing to his box, where his coach Marian Vajda sat, saw his serve take some stick in the fifth game. He survived a breakpoint as Thiem’s forehand found the net. In the 12th game, serving to take the set into tie-break, Thiem fell behind 15-40. A backhand error and a sledgehammer serve saw the world No. 3 pull the game back to deuce before taking the set into the shoot-out.

Thiem was off the blocks quickly in the tie-break, going up 2-0, the world No.1 then reeled off four points in a row. After changing sides, Thiem levelled four-all and then five-all. It was Djokovic’s turn then to draw even, nailing his serve to save match point at 5-6. At 8-7 Djokovic had his third set point, but he sent a forehand wide. Thiem’s forehand then missed by a whisker on his third match point and Djokovic responded by saving the next with a forehand. It was Thiem who blinked first, sending a backhand into net to give the Serb the set on his fourth set point (12-10).

In the business end of the deciding third set, tempers flared and nerves frayed. Djokovic and Thiem, locked in a mental wrestling match, took the set to tie-break. Thiem opened with a double fault and then fell behind 0-3 but when they crossed over, the Austrian had stuck his foot in the door, trailing 2-4. At 6-4 Thiem had two more match points and he closed on his sixth after 2 hours and 54 minutes.

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