World number two Novak Djokovic took the first step towards claiming a record fifth ATP World Tour Finals in London with a 6-7 (10-12), 6-0, 6-2 win over young Dominic Thiem yesterday.
The Serbian, looking to quickly retake the number one spot that Andy Murray wrestled away from him last week, seemed unable to shake off the malaise that has followed him since his Roland Garros title as he lost the first set in the tie-breaker to Thiem.
23-year-old Thiem found it difficult to return Djokovic’s serves early on but grew into the game as the first set wore on, hanging onto his own serves to take the match into a tie-breaker. It took more than an hour to decide the first set in an epic tie-breaker that Thiem finally won 12-10.
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The first-set loss against an opponent that the Serbian had never lost to seemed to wake up the 29-year-old and he roared back to serve up a humiliating bagel for the Austrian in the second set.
Thiem found no answer whatsoever for Djokovic as he showed glimpses of returning to the tennis he played during his 122-week reign at the top.
It was a stark contrast to a closely fought first set as Djokovic levelled the match with a statement 6-0 win.
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The young Austrian returned a bit in the all-important third and final set but with Djokovic back in the groove, it was only a matter of time.
After holding on during his first serving game, Thiem was broken in the second and there was always going to be one outcome from there on in. Djokovic cemented the break by holding onto his serve and taking a 3-1 lead before Thiem made it 3-2.
But that was as good as it was going to get for the young Austrian, who showed why he is tipped by many to be the sport’s next big thing.
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Djokovic calmly held onto his serve to reopen the two-game gap before breaking Thiem once again to serve for the match.
The Serb was in no mood to relinquish his advantage and quickly found himself with three match points, but he needed only the one to go one step closer to history and his old number one spot.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2016.
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courtesy : express tribune