LONDON – Rafael Nadal’s hopes of successful the year-ending ATP Finals for the primary time dwell on after the Spaniard beat defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 4-6 6-2 on Thursday.
The final round-robin match within the London Group had change into a straight knockout with each males having misplaced to Dominic Thiem and overwhelmed Andrey Rublev earlier within the week.
But it was Spaniard Nadal who at all times appeared the extra possible winner regardless of a lapse which allowed Tsitsipas to prolong the competition right into a decider at a near-deserted O2 Arena.
After a flurry of service breaks in the beginning of the third set, the 34-year-old Nadal confirmed all his expertise to draw back and reach the semi-finals for the primary time in 5 years.
As group runner-up behind Austrian Thiem, he’ll face Daniil Medvedev for a spot within the last with the Russian already assured of high spot within the Tokyo Group.
World primary Novak Djokovic performs Alexander Zverev on Friday with the winner to play Thiem within the different semi-final.
“In general this was a very positive match for me,” stated Nadal, who regardless of successful 20 Grand Slam titles has solely two runners-up locations to present for his earlier 9 appearances on the ATP Finals. “Excited to be in the semi-finals.”
Nadal was untouchable on his serve within the first set, shedding solely 5 factors, and the stress informed on Tsitsipas who was unable to unleash his attacking recreation.
The Greek fought off break factors at 3-3 however at 4-4 he buckled with a double-fault permitting Nadal the possibility to serve for the opening set, a activity he achieved with successive aces.
Nadal had gained his earlier 70 matches when successful the primary set so Tsitsipas’s prospects appeared bleak, however he was handed an surprising lifeline when Nadal hit bother serving at 4-5.
A well-struck backhand earned Tsitsipas a few set factors out of the blue and whereas Nadal saved one with a primary serve he then double-faulted to ship the match right into a decider.
Tsitsipas instantly dropped serve, however broke Nadal once more when the Spaniard netted a backhand. The Greek couldn’t seize the initiative, nevertheless, and a unfastened backhand ensured a fourth straight break of serve after just one within the first 19 video games.
Nadal then regained his authority to energy dwelling.
Tsitsipas, who loved his breakthrough second right here final 12 months when, aged 21, he beat Thiem within the last, was downbeat about his efficiency.
“I fought hard in the second set but very disappointed with the third, I was rushing and didn’t know what I was trying to do honestly. I should have been a bit more clever,” he stated.
Earlier within the day, Rublev beat Thiem 6-2 7-5 to finish his maiden look on a excessive — incomes himself $153,000 for the group win and 200 rating factors within the course of.