Thiem into ATP Finals semis as Djokovic and Federer face shootout

Austria's Dominic Thiem. (AFP)
Updated 13 November 2019

Thiem into ATP Finals semis as Djokovic and Federer face shootout

  • Austrian fifth seed took fight to the world No. 2, recovering from losing the first set to triumph

LONDON: Dominic Thiem produced a scintillating display of attacking tennis to beat Novak Djokovic and qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals on Tuesday, leaving the Serbian facing a shootout against Roger Federer.

In the standout match so far at London’s O2 Arena, the Austrian fifth seed took the fight to the world No. 2, recovering from losing the first set to triumph 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)

Earlier, Federer put himself back in the mix at the end-of-season event with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 win against Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini in their round-robin clash.

Federer and Djokovic will face off on Thursday in a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon final to determine who else will progress from Group Bjorn Borg.

Thiem was forced to play high-stakes tennis against the 16-time Grand Slam winner, taking the breath away with some of his inside-out forehands and single-handed backhands

Forced to play at his limit, he hit 50 winners compared with Djokovic’s tally of 27 but also racked up 44 unforced errors.

“This was really one of these special matches, what I’ve practiced all my life for, all my childhood for,” Thiem said.

“Really epic one in an amazing atmosphere, beating a legend of our game. And also I’ve qualified for the semifinals, which is the best.

“Coming back from 1-4 (down in the deciding tie-break) was a little bit of luck, but it was an unbelievable match and one I’ll never forget. Novak is the best player in the world and I had to do something special.”

In a captivating first set the players swapped a break apiece but Djokovic, a five-time ATP Finals champion, edged the tie-break.

Undaunted, Thiem broke his opponent at the first opportunity in the second set and, with Djokovic’s error count climbing, went on to level the match.

Thiem also drew first blood in the decider but cracked in the sixth game as Djokovic levelled the match and appeared to have engineered a switch in momentum.

The Austrian successfully challenged at 30-30 in the 10th game after his forehand was ruled out, preventing a match point for Djokovic and he toughed it out to level at 5-5.

He then broke Djokovic to love to earn a chance to serve for the match but stumbled and the decider went to a tie-break.

Still the drama was not finished. Thiem slipped to 4-1 down but battled back to win it on his second match point when Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net.

Third seed Federer had put himself under the cosh by losing his opening round-robin match to Thiem. The six-time champion was not at his fluent best on Tuesday but ultimately had too much for his Italian opponent.

The Swiss upped his game to take the first set tie-break comfortably and broke immediately at the start of the second set to leave the big-serving Berrettini with too much to do.

Federer was asked after his win against Berrettini whether his defeat to Djokovic at Wimbledon had left emotional or mental scars.

“We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side,” said the Swiss.

“A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”

Djokovic is hunting a sixth ATP Finals title to pull level with Federer’s record and is also seeking to pip Rafael Nadal to the year-end number one ranking.

On Monday, top seed Nadal lost his opener in Group Andre Agassi to defending champion Alexander Zverev while Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev.


De Silva hundred in rain-hit historic Pakistan Test

Updated 15 December 2019

De Silva hundred in rain-hit historic Pakistan Test

  • Sri Lanka declared their first innings at 308-6 after 20 minutes of batting on day five
  • The second Test will be played in Karachi from December 19

RAWALPINDI: Middle-order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva completed his century on the fifth and final day against Pakistan in Rawalpindi on Sunday, the first Test in the country since 2009 shooting.
The 28-year-old right-hander drove paceman Mohammad Abbas to cover boundary for his 15th boundary to complete his sixth Test hundred in his 28th Test.
Sri Lanka, who had won the toss and batted, declared their first innings at 308-6 after 20 minutes of batting on day five as the rain-affected Test is set to end in a draw after almost three days of play were lost.
De Silva remained unbeaten on 102 after 241 minutes of batting, having come at the score of 127-4 on Thursday. He hit 15 boundaries. Dilruwan Perera remained unbeaten on 16.
Any hopes of a result in Pakistan’s historic Test have been dashed by rain and bad light which ended the first day’s play after 68.1 overs.
Only 18.2 overs were possible on day two, 5.2 on the third and the fourth day’s play was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
The pick of the Pakistan bowlers were 16-year-old pace bowler Naseem Shah who took 2-92 and Shaheen Shah Afridi with 2-58.
The Test is the first in Pakistan since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus killed eight people in March 2009, leading to the suspension of international cricket in the country as foreign teams refused to visit over security fears.
The second Test is in Karachi from December 19.