Milos Raonic earned his first ATP Finals semifinal berth today knocking out Dominic Thiem 7-6(5), 6-3 to finish 2-1 in round robin play and in second place in the Ivan Lendl group. Thiem had a chance up 4-2 in the first set breaker, but the Canadian won five of the last six points, and then broke immediately in the second to pace to win.
“I did a lot of things quite well today,” said Raonic. “I stepped up when I had an opportunity in the tie-break. I stepped up at the beginning of the second set and the end of it. There’s a lot definitely to be proud of, playing under that kind of pressure, because I really wanted to get out of the group stages and I wanted to give myself a chance in the semi-finals.”
Raonic improves to 2-0 against Thiem and has yet to face a break point in two matches. And he reaches his first semifinals.
“It’s very big for me,” said Raonic. “I had a very big goal of wanting to win my first Slam this year. I came up short on that.
“Right now I think I’ve put myself in a good situation,” he added. “I’ve done well to give myself this opportunity.”
Thiem finishes his first ATP Finals having at least played well in all three matches despite a 1-2 mark.
“I think it was a quite good first set,” said Thiem. “Neither of us faced a break point. The tie-break was pretty open. The mistakes I made, I think, is still the difference between me and the very top [players]… I hope that I will be back here in the future. It’s one of the best tournaments. It was an amazing experience. I’m also happy that I won one match and that I still had the chance to reach the semi-finals in the last match… You have to be 100 per cent from the very start. I learned a lot of things.”
In the early match, with Gael Monfils sidelined with a rib injury, David Goffin took the Frenchman’s place and proceeded to get crushed by Novak Djokovic 6-1, 6-2 in 70 minutes.
The 4-time defending champion Djokovic finishes the Lendl group at 3-0 and for the moment, moves ahead of Andy Murray in the No. 1 race.
“Everything has been going, as I said, in a positive direction. I’ve been playing better and better as I proceed in the tournament. I have now a day of rest,” Djokovic said. “I’m looking forward really. It’s the last couple matches of the year hopefully. One thing is for sure: I’m going to give it my all on the court and see what happens.”
Djokovic has now won 21 of his last 22 matches at the event.
On tap Friday, the last two semifinalists will be placed. Andy Murray takes on Stan Wawrinka. If Murray wins a set, he advances. Murray leads Wawrinka 9-7 but Stan beat Murray a year ago in this same situation, though the Scot had the Davis Cup around the corner.
“All I know is if I want to have a chance to qualify, I need to win,” Wawrinka said. “That’s all I know. That’s all I’m trying to do. I’m going to try to play my best tennis, to beat the world No. 1. It’s going to be a tough match. We played many times each other. He’s playing his best tennis so far. It’s going to be interesting. I’m happy to play here in front of his home crowd. I’m sure it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Later, Kei Nishikori challenges Marin Cilic. If Nishikori wins then he will go into his second semifinal in three years.
If, however, Murray loses by straight sets and then Nishikori wins, then Djokovic can celebrate early, he’ll finish No. 1.
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