World No.3 Dominic Thiem displayed his on-court brilliance to defeat arch-nemesis, Rafael Nadal, at the ATP World Tour Finals. The Austrian won the match in straight sets, with both sets going to the tiebreaker stage. The Roland Garros champion showed exquisite net play, but lost by the narrowest of margins.
Despite being two set points down in the opening set tie-break, Thiem held his nerve to clinch the first set. The following set began in a similar fashion, with both players holding their respective service games until 3-3. However, Nadal broke Thiem’s service in the seventh game of the second set, but the US Open champion broke back subsequently.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion exhibited rock-solid mentality by saving three match points at 4-5 down and pushed the second set into a tie-break. Nonetheless, Thiem’s impenetrable defense overpowered Nadal as the Austrian edged past in two hours and 25 minutes.
The showdown revived memories of the duo’s semifinal clash at the 2020 Australian Open, where Thiem won each of the three tiebreakers to oust Nadal. During the post-match conference, Nadal acknowledged that despite the loss, he felt happy about his level of tennis.
“I feel like I played very well, I don’t feel negative about what I did on the court today. I congratulate Thiem because he played amazing. I know I lost but I have more to give,” said Nadal.
“Still have a chance to qualify”: Rafael Nadal
Although, Nadal admitted that his opponent played the crucial points better, which ultimately decided the result of the match. Thiem improved his head-to-head record to 6-9 against Nadal.
“He created damage on me with his general game and I created damage on his as well. He wasn’t the better player and I wasn’t the better player. He deserves the victory because he played the big points very well,” said Nadal.
World No.2 revealed that the high octane encounter helped in testing himself at the highest level. Nadal asserted that he still has a chance to qualify for the semifinals at the ATP Nitto Finals. He will square off against Stefanos Tsitsipas in a must-win game for the Spaniard.
“I feel much better with my tennis level than I did a few days ago. I’m not sad, I think it was a great match to test myself at the highest level. I know I can still have a chance to qualify at the weekend,” remarked Nadal.