Thiem proving champion’s instinct in key moments

 - Alex Sharp

The US Open champion has booked his ATP Finals semi-finals ticket with two stunning displays in the round robin stage.

Dominic Thiem ATP Finals 2020©Ella Ling / ATP Tour

You don’t need to practice today!

Rafael Nadal had spotted Dominic Thiem entering the practice courts at the O2 Arena in east London on Wednesday.

24 hours back on the clock and Thiem has prevailed in an absorbing clash with the reigning Roland-Garros champion to qualify for the ATP Finals last four.

Nadal was clearly joking, but the world No.3 is in such a groove at the season finale, that he could put his feet up. That’s not the Thiem way, of course he bludgeoned the balls to fine tune his fierce game. 

Their 7-6(7), 7-6(4) encounter was a breath-taking collection of rallies to jam together for a world class highlights reel. 

In particular, Thiem whipped in sharp serves and banished the baseline, stepping in with full-throttle aggression, seeking any chance to outgun Nadal or surge up to the net. 

There is no hyperbole to suggest it was one of the 27-year-old’s greatest performances and the Austrian agrees… 

I would say so, yeah. Definitely one of the better matches I have played so far in my career indoors and hard courts,” mused the US Open champion. 

It came very close to last year's match against Novak (Djokovic) here. Also, second group match, which is probably the best three-setter I have ever played. 

“Was a great match which I will remember for a long time. Now the goal is to enjoy this victory and to maintain that level until Thursday.

Despite all the hotshot rallies, it certainly wasn’t simple for the world No.3.

Thiem was down 2-5 in the opening tie-break and managed to fend off two set points, before crushing a forehand winner to seal a mammoth 72-minute opener. 

5-4 in the second set the Austrian saw three match points vanish due to “outstanding points” from 13-time Roland Garros winner Nadal. 

Losing these chances was “no problem at all,” Thiem is now totally in tune with instantly re-setting, even if closing out a special victory against the calibre of opponent such as Nadal is so close.

Thiem, a spectacular player to watch for several seasons, in the past 12 months has excelled at sourcing that extra step, extra sinew, extra retort to find a way in the clutch moments.

Take his recent tie-break record.

He snatched away all five sets from this stage en route to lifting his maiden Grand Slam in New York.

Dominic Thiem ATP Finals 2020©Ella Ling / ATP Tour

Back in London, Thiem is now 3-0 at the ATP Finals this week, following an equally impressive 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 scoreline in the 2019 final rematch against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday.

The brace of breaker wins against Nadal on Tuesday means the Austrian has clinched five sets from this position in the last six sets played against the 20-time major winner. 

The modern game is littered with numbers, but these stats simply state Thiem is playing the clutch points impeccably well and that’s ominous for the field at the ATP Finals.

Honestly, I think that today I played a little bit higher level than at the US Open and was maybe the best match for me since the restart of the tour. That makes me super happy,” stated the world No.3 in press after his triumph over Nadal. 


Obviously it was not easy to come back after US Open and French Open (quarter-finals). I was like on unbelievable emotional state and everything. Then also the home tournament in Vienna a little injury, so that was not easy

But now I'm 100% recovered. I had a great preparation, as well, for London, so I'm super happy with the way I'm playing here.

The 27-year-old hopes to maintain his momentum against debutant Andrey Rublev, who recently defeated him on home soil in Vienna. Thiem is fully focused on his own side of the net and is adamant he can’t sit and admire his previous performances in east London. He wants more.

I think that I raised my level especially on hard court towards the end of last season when I started the Asian swing, and then I won Vienna. I played a great Finals here, and also Australian Open at the beginning of the year,” continued the world No.3.

So that's gives me feeling I raised my level. I was able to maintain it during the break of the tour, because obviously there was a lot of time for practice to work on things. 

Of course, I still want to improve. I still have a lot of stuff to improve, especially coming to the net and closing out the points better at the net, so that's my goal for the next pre-season.

No pre-season yet Dominic, time to repeat and overpower at the ATP Finals.