Dominic Thiem felt he was ‘a little bit lucky’ in the deciding set tiebreak against Novak Djokovic as he booked his spot in the final of the ATP Finals for a second time.
Thiem was 0-4 down in the breaker but won six points in a row to flip it on its head and clinch another fine 7-5 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (7-5) victory over Djokovic at the O2.
It looked as though Thiem would be left ruing four match points missed in the second set tiebreak – the second of which he doublefaulted on – and the Austrian admitted he was ‘tight’ in big moments.
But after being hailed by Djokovic for playing lights out tennis when it really mattered at the death, Thiem – who will face either Rafael Nadal or Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final – suggested he’d enjoyed a fair slice of fortune to get the win.
‘I kind of almost believed in myself, and honestly also have to say that today I got a little bit lucky at the end in the third-set tiebreak,’ said Thiem.
‘I mean, of course it’s amazing. I won two against Rafa, I won the deciding today against Nole, the tiebreak. But still, I mean, it’s so much on the edge.
‘From 0-4 in the third-set tiebreak I went for every single shot and every single shot went in. I mean, it was amazing, and it’s not gonna be like that in every match I play.
‘Of course I’m super happy that it worked out today, but it’s not gonna be like that in every match. I know that. I’m just super happy that in such an important match like the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals it worked out like that.
‘Today, for example, in the second-set tiebreak, I was mentally not that strong. I got so tight when I had two match points on my own serve. The first one was a double fault. I was like so tight in my whole body. Then the second, as well.
‘So it’s always like kind of so close, these matches, that, well, at the end, the one who was a little bit luckier ends up winning.’
It would certainly be unfair to put it all down to luck.
Thiem is the only player other than Andy Murray to beat each of the ‘Big Three’ of Djokovic, Nadal – who he defeated in the group stages – and Roger Federer at least five times.
And the 27-year-old, who boasts a ferocious one-handed backhand, revealed he relishes the opportunity to face off against the three greats of the sport.
‘That is super special to me,’ he said of joining Murray in regularly beating the ‘Big Three’. ‘ I mean, some things are super special about today’s victory. It was my 300th tour-level win, which is amazing to me.
‘And then to beat every single of the three best players of all time five times each, it’s something great for me. Super nice statistics.
‘But still, as I said after the match against Rafa, every single match against them is a huge privilege. It’s a huge opportunity to learn. Of course if you beat these guys, it gives you a huge boost of confidence.’
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