For the first time, Novak Djokovic failed to force his opponent to play the decisive set, despite having saved five match-points. Previously, the Serbian player won eight times in the third set or the fifth set in tournaments during the year. Djokovic’s ambitions to level the record six times as winning ATP Finals have been temporarily blocked. Meanwhile, Thiem has a second consecutive year in the final, facing the chance to lift the ATP Finals for the first time.
The first set witnessed the stability in two player hand games. In the first six games, no one was able to pull the opponent to a point 40. It was not until the seventh game that Djokovic did this, but two good serves in a row kept Thiem from facing a break-point. The Austrian player made more self-damage than Djokovic (12 vs. 8), but always corrected his mistake in time thanks to efficient serve and steady single-handed left-handed play from the back of the field.
The turning point of the first set came in the 11th game when Djokovic took delivery. The world’s number one player was led 15-40, equalized, but then made a mistake in the situation of overflowing a volley. Djokovic’s disastrous mistake helped Thiem successfully take advantage of the first break-point of the match. The world’s number three player easily wins the game, holding the next delivery to overcome Djokovic 7-5.
The same scenario is repeated in the second set. Djokovic and Thiem still struggled, often ending quick serve games, even though each had a break-point. In the position of having to win this set to foster hope in the final, “Nole” increases the difficulty of the shots and takes more risk. However, he did not have many opportunities during the day his opponent was excited.
It was not until the 12th game that a new opportunity came to Djokovic after the miraculous returns. The Serbian player leads 40-15 and has two set points. However, Thiem immediately equalized with two dangerous serves. The 27-year-old then made no more mistakes to put the set in the tie-break series.
This series saw the best chase performance in ATP Finals’ history of tie-break series. Djokovic faced match-point three times in the return position but successfully resolved. Thiem then added a fourth match-point when he stood back and couldn’t take advantage of it. Finally, Djokovic successfully took advantage of the set-point to win the series with a score of 12-10.
The balance stance remained unchanged in the final set. Although the weapon of a serve and the one-handed backhand deteriorates, Thiem does not face the risk of losing the game to serve. Meanwhile, “Nole” is only once for juniors to reach the 40-40 score in the eighth game, the rest are easy wins. The two players, therefore, once again pulled each other into the tie-break series.
Djokovic got off to a good start in this series when he soon led 4-0 thanks to Thiem making a double error. Then, Djokovic constantly takes the ball off the field in counterattack situations and lets Thiem lead 6-4. The Austrian then got his sixth match-point in the match and this time he didn’t miss it. The advantage of handing over helps Thiem presses Djokovic before setting a 7-5 victory in the tie-break series. In the end, Thiem surpassed the number one player in the world with the score 7-5, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5).
This is the fifth victory in the last seven times Thiem met Djokovic. He became the second person after Andy Murray to beat each member in “Big 3” five or more times. To date, Thiem has six wins over Rafael Nadal and five defeats Roger Federer.