World No.5 Dominic Thiem got better of the defending runner-up Novak Djokovic in their second round-robin match, defeating him in a thrilling three sets 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) to book a place in the last four of the ATP World Tour Finals 2019 on Tuesday.
Losing a close opening tiebreaker triggered the turnaround for Dominic Thiem as he broke early in the second and raced to a 3-0 lead before clinching a comfortable second set and taking the match to the distance. The Austrian once again made a turnaround in deciding set tiebreak as he clinched the victory despite trailing 4-1 in the final set tiebreaker.
Thiem racked up 51 winners, compared to Djokovic’s 28. However, the 26-year-old also hit 51 unforced errors in a courageous display of attacking tennis in what turned out to be the best match of the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals till now. Novak Djokovic also praised Thiem to play fearless tennis.
“I thought he deserved to win,” Djokovic said in the post-match press conference. “He just played very courageous tennis and just smacking the ball. He went for broke.”
“I mean, the entire match he played the same way he played the last point. I mean, I have to put my hat down and congratulate him, because he just played a great match,” the Serbian further said in the appraisement of Dominic Thiem.
Novak Djokovic further revealed that he hasn’t experienced many matches like this where his opponent play attacking tennis constantly as he felt that the French Open runner-up was hitting every ball as hard as he can.
“It’s hard to judge by today’s match. I mean, I don’t think I have experienced too many matches like this where my opponent just goes for every single shot,” the 32-year-old noted.
Djokovic further: “I mean, 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 he was going in.”
However, the Serb is not sure till when Thiem can continue to play attacking tennis but he admits that the Austrian played some extraordinary tennis against him on Tuesday.
“It’s really hard to say – I mean, of course, his level was super high. This today was unbelievable. But whether he can keep that up, you know, every match, if he does, chapeau, you know. There is not much you can say. For sure, he’s playing great tennis,” Djokovic said.
He concluded: “It was amazing. I have played him before. I know his game. But what he did tonight was just out of ordinary, so to say.”