Dominic Thiem remains undefeated at ATP Finals as he beats Rafael Nadal in riveting clash
Dominic Thiem produced a stunning performance to defeat Rafael Nadal at the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
After a brilliant contest full of intensity and explosive shot-making, it was US Open champion Thiem who emerged a 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-4) winner to move to within touching distance of the semi-finals.
Victory for Stefanos Tsitsipas over Andrey Rublev on Tuesday evening would send Thiem through before his final group match against the Russian debutant on Thursday.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 17, 2020
Nadal eased past Rublev on Sunday while Thiem was made to work harder in a three-set win over Tsitsipas in a rematch of last year’s final.
This match was on another level, though, and the only shame was that there were no fans in The O2 to see it.
Nadal and Thiem had met on 14 previous occasions, all but two of them on clay. The two matches on hard courts were both corkers – a US Open quarter-final in 2018 that Nadal won on a deciding tie-break and a clash at the same stage of the Australian Open earlier this year won by Thiem.
The Austrian won all three of his sets that day on tie-breaks, and the first set here went the same way after 12 pulsating games in which the pair were so well matched that they won exactly the same number of points.
— Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar (@rnadalacademy) November 17, 2020
It appeared Nadal would come out on top this time when he led 5-2 with two serves to come but Thiem won both of those points and then, after the Austrian double-faulted, Nadal dumped a snatched backhand into the net on set point.
At 34, the nerves have begun to penetrate Nadal’s previously ice-cold veins at the biggest moments, and that was evident again here.
Thiem now arguably carries the mantle of bravest when the stakes are highest and he saved another set point with a thumping forehand winner before staging a repeat to steal the set.
There was no let-up in quality in the second set and the first break of serve finally arrived in the seventh game as Nadal forged ahead.
But Thiem hit straight back, his backhand down the line again proving the key weapon in his arsenal against the great Spaniard.
Nadal’s nerves were to the fore once more serving at 4-5 as a poor volley and rare fluffed smash gave Thiem three match points, but the second seed saved them all, the second when a drop volley kissed the top of the net and landed for a winner.
Nadal held firm to force a second tie-break but Thiem’s willingness to go for the big shots and make them earned him more match points, and this time he took one.
5 things about new French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova
Getting to know Roland Garros champion Krejcikova.
Barbora Krejcikova felt Jana Novotna presence on way to French Open glory
Novotna coached Krejcikova prior to her untimely death from cancer four years ago.
‘Hopefully third time lucky,’ says Johanna Konta as she reaches her third final in Nottingham
Konta faces Zhang Shuai in the final.
Barbora Krejcikova completes French Open fairytale by beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for maiden Grand Slam
Barbora Krejcikova is your French Open women’s champion.
Novak Djokovic turns his attention to Stefanos Tsitsipas and French Open final after epic semi-final
The Serb handed Nadal just his third defeat at Roland Garros.
ATP Queen’s Club draw: Andy Murray and Dan Evans find out their first-round opponents
Andy Murray has not played since March.
2021 French Open men’s final info, head-to-head, betting and preview: Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
All the info you need ahead of the 2021 French Open men’s final.
Mats Wilander on GOAT debate after Novak Djokovic win: ‘There could be three guys on 20 after Wimbledon’
“We have to start talking about the GOAT,” says Wilander.
Johanna Konta makes progress while Dan Evans fails as grass-court season gathers pace
Johanna Konta’s fine form continues at Viking Open.
‘A night you will remember forever’ – Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal react to their French Open epic
Djokovic and Nadal on their French Open epic.