After a stunning win in his opener over Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem did one better toppling World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a thrilling win 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(5).
Thiem dropped a tight opening set, but then caught fire in the second, blasting forehand winners. And the Austrian kept it up in the third, dictating from the baseline. But at the time of asking, he failed to serve it out at 6-5, then promptly went down 4-1 in the deciding breaker.
But Djokovic, who seemed to have regaining the momentum, couldn’t finish the job as Thiem took six of the next seven points to stun the former champion.
“This was really one of these special matches, what I’ve practiced 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 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.”
Thiem’s victory puts him at 2-0 in the event and earns him the top seed out of the Borg Group. He will meet the No. 2 from the Agassi Group in the Saturday semifinals.
Djokovic, who was the tournament favorite going in, now has a big showdown with Roger Federer on Thursday for a spot in the semifinals. And the loss also dents his No. 1 hopes.
“I thought he deserved to win. He just played very courageous tennis and just smacking the ball. He went for broke,” Djokovic said. “The entire match he played same way he played the last point. I have to put my hat down and congratulate him, because he just played a great match.
“I’m still in the tournament. We go head-to-head with Roger. Winner goes to semis. Loser doesn’t qualify. As simple as that.”
Earlier, Federer won a tough first set before pulling away in the second to beat Matteo Berrettini 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,” said Federer who is now 17-0 in second matches at the ATP Finals. “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.”
On tap Wednesday, the Agassi Group resumes with Rafael Nadal taking on Daniil Medvedev in a virtual elimination match. Nadal has won both meetings with the Russian including that US Open final epic.
“I’m struggling a little bit with finding back my level I had in the USA and Shanghai and St. Petersburg, which is, I think normal for any sportsman,” said Medvedev. “And that’s what is amazing about the top three, Big Three and Murray before, that even when you kind of look at them and you think, ‘Okay, they are not playing as good as they can’, they still win these matches.”
And then Stefanos Tsitsipas battles Alexander Zverev. The Greek leads 3-1 in that series including two this year. The winner likely gets a semifinal spot.
“Both fantastic matches. Especially I think in Beijing it was very, very close and could have gone both ways, even though it was two sets,” Zverev said. “It’s going to be interesting. He played a fantastic match, I thought, especially for the first time playing here. It’s never easy. I’m looking forward to it.”
WEDNESDAY ATP FINALS LONDON SCHEDULE
Centre Court Starts At 12:00 Noon
RR 1 Juan Sebastian Cabal-Robert Farah v 6 Jean-Julien Rojer-Horia Tecau
Not Before 2:00 Pm
RR 1 Rafael Nadal v 4 Daniil Medvedev
Not Before 6:00 Pm
RR 3 Kevin Krawietz-Andreas Mies v 7 Pierre-Hugues Herbert-Nicolas Mahut
Not Before 8:00 Pm
RR 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas v 7 Alexander Zverev
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