London, 22 November 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Austria’s Dominic Thiem and Russian Daniil Medvedev will play in London’s season-ending ATP final on Sunday after they eliminated Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Thiem picked up his 300th career win on Saturday after he dismissed world number one Djokovic in a 7-5, 6-7 (10-12), 7-6 (7-5) thriller to enter the championship match for the second successive year.
Fourth-seeded Russian Medvedev conquered Nadal in an impressive comeback from a set and 5-4 down to claim his first win over the 34-year-old Spaniard 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 inside an empty O2 Arena.
Medvedev says he is looking forward to a rematch of the US Open semi-final that he lost to Thiem, who went on to lift his first major title.
“Dominic is playing amazing right now,” Medvedev said ahead of the final.
“I practised with him and we had good rallies, a really good level of tennis. It will be a good match and a good final.”
London prepares to say goodbye to the tournament as the event host without public spectators because of coronavirus restrictions. Turin, Italy will be the new host from 2021.
“It’s the last match of a tough year for everybody so we will put on a great show for everyone who’s watching,” Thiem said.
The 27-year-old Thiem, who is ranked as the third best player, edged a close first set by a late break of Djokovic’s serve and saved two set points in the second to open a tie-break.
Djokovic had a 4-2 lead in the tie-break and survived four match points before the 33-year-old pulled in front with Thiem’s netted forehand opening up a final set.
Thiem, the US Open champion, battled back from 4-0 down in the deciding tie-break and despite Djokovic saving another match point at 6-4, Thiem eventually crossed the finish line after two hours 54 minutes.
“It was so much on the edge that match,” said Thiem.
“I’m so happy that I am through. I will try everything to win the title.”
Djokovic told a short press conference: “What he did from 0-4 down in the third set tie-breaker was unreal.
“I don’t think I played bad. I made my serves. He just crashed the ball and everything went in from both corners. I was in a driver’s position and I was so close to win it but he just took it away from me. He deserved it.”
Nadal’s serve was under fire from the start against Medvedev as he fought off three break points at 1-1 before creating a 5-3 gap to take the first set.
The Spanish world number two could have clinched the match in the second at 5-4 after rallying back from 3-0 down, but he dropped his serve to love and Medvedev ran away with the tie-break.
“In the 5-4, he played a good game and I didn’t,” said Nadal.
“I played a bad game and I lost a big opportunity. Well done to him, he was playing great and I wish him all the best.”
“At 5-4 in the second set I decided to change some little things and start going for things a little more,” Medvedev explained. “I had to change and it worked really well.”
Medvedev created a 3-1 lead in the breaker after an exhaustive exchange and Nadal missed the opportunity to complete a turnaround by making a wrong choice at the net that allowed his opponent to take the match into a deciding frame.
Nadal’s campaign for a first ATP Finals title was over when he tired in draining rallies and Medvedev pounced to break twice and seal his place in the final for the last time in London.