The semi-finals of the 2020 ATP Finals will be remembered as two incredible, thrilling, fun and dramatic matches. The main actors on the stage of London's O2 Arena were Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokjovic.
Dominic Thiem stops the clock at the threshold of three hours of play even against Novak Djokovic. The Austrian talent does not exploit four match points in the tie break of the second set, but recovers a mega-disadvantage of 0-4 in the final rush and seals the success at 7-5 6-7 (10) 7-6 (5).
The world number three, who among other things joined the club of three hundred career victories in the most romantic way available, has also recovered among other things the result of the previous edition. Djokovic takes leave of London instead with some recriminations.
By winning, needless to say, he would have reached the thirty-ninth pearl Finals (like Lendl) the eighth final (like Becker) but above all he would have come close to Roger Federer.
Thiem vs Djokovic
The first set remains delicately balanced up to the foot of the tie break.
Thiem stains the notebook with a handful of rather gross errors coming out of service in the sixth game, but recovers perfectly from 0-30 and regroups the score at the second useful opportunity. Djokovic, in order not to be left behind in the plot, instead rises from 0-30 to 3-3.
When logic seems to push for the jeu decisif, Thiem rebels against the most obvious of epilogues. With a very heavy acceleration from the forehand, from the center, on 5-5 30-30, the Austrian tennis player gets the first chance to snatch the serve.
And it exploits it. Djokovic, who pushes hard and well from the baseline, is unable to prepare a competitive volley. Nor to get back on track in the next game. After a split of seven consecutive points on serve, prelude to a minimum of tranquility, Djokovic finds himself even on 30-40.
The Austrian tennis player, who concedes something from the baseline, instead cancels a break point at 3-4 and finds the support of the first serve at 5-6 15-40. The tie break is a separate chapter. The number one of the big group loses control of the forehand at the start, but immediately recovers the gap of disadvantage and with a heavy first - which accompanies with a winning forehand - he pushes rather easily on 3-2.
Thiem, who goes away with a rather gross error in the setting phase, recovers the mini-break from his disadvantage and faces the 6-5 parallel with the same modus operandi. Djokovic catches the farthest line with his serve, but at 6-6 he shows up on the net without a convincing plan.
Thiem, who passes rather easily, obviously feeds the drama of the day with a double fault and slips at 7-8. Djokovic, who fails to give continuity to the advantage, completely loses the service advantage and sends Thiem one step away from the finish line for the third time.
The Serbian champion, who cancels a total of four match points, when the luminous scoreboard says "11-10" still manages to enter with the answer and at least extend the matter up to the third. Third, which, as in the logic of things, re-establishes itself on the track of equilibrium.
Before the tie break, a sort of necessary stage, Djokovic lets himself be dragged to the advantages in the eighth game while Thiem gets out of both 4-4 and 5-5. Thiem shows up on the final catwalk with a bloody double fault.
And after two rather dull appearances in response he stains the notebook with another free straight error in the middle of the setting phase. With a 4-0 lead to defend, with enough bowls stopped, Djokovic jams. Thiem completely heals the gap and at 4-4 scores the tenth ace of the match.
Above all, he kisses the left diagonal with a splendid backhand solution, a prelude to a victory that matures on the threshold of three hours of play.