Otago Daily Times
Medvedev,Thiem win seismic semis
LONDON: Rafael Nadal’s dream of a first ATP Finals title and Novak Djokovic’s quest for a recordequalling sixth vanished in defeats by Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem in two seismic semifinals yesterday.
As the curtain comes down on London’s 12 years as host of the ATP Tour’s prestigious seasonender, it would have been fitting for Nadal and Djokovic to face off for the 57th time in their glittering careers.
But times are achanging, or so it seems, and Medvedev and Thiem had not read the script.
Nadal, seeking the one major pot missing from his vast collection of silverware, must have seen the door creaking open when Thiem produced a staggering fightback to beat Djokovic 75, 67 (810), 76 (75) in a classic contest lasting almost three hours.
He had beaten Medvedev in each of their three meetings, including a memorable US Open final last year.
It seemed like he had exhausted the wily Russian’s box of tricks when he served for the match at 54 in the second set but Medvedev, 10 years his junior at 24, stormed back to win 36, 76 (74), 63.
‘‘At 54 in the second set I decided to change some small things and start going for things a little more. I had to change and it worked really well,’’ Medvedev, who was 100% in group play, including a win over Djokovic, said.
To put world No 4 Medvedev’s win into perspective, Nadal had triumphed in the past 71 matches in which he had taken the first set.
Earlier, the 27yearold Thiem saw four match points vanish in the second set tiebreak against Djokovic, one with a nervy doublefault, and it seemed he would pay a heavy price.
Djokovic, one short of Roger Federer’s titles record at the ATP Finals, led 40 in the deciding set tiebreak.
But US Open champion Thiem unleashed a stunning counterattack to reel off six points, reaching match point with a ripping crosscourt backhand.
Djokovic saved a fifth match point but then floated a defensive forehand long.
‘‘What he did from 04 in the tiebreak was unreal,’’ Djokovic said.
Thiem racked up his 300th career tour win
‘‘From 04 in the thirdset tiebreak I went for every single shot and every single shot went in. It was amazing,’’ he said. — Reuters