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.


Uncapped Robinson in England squad for second Pakistan Test

Updated 12 August 2020

Uncapped Robinson in England squad for second Pakistan Test

  • Robinson has been one of the most impressive bowlers in English domestic cricket in recent years
  • Star all-rounder Ben Stokes will also miss the third Test

SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom: Uncapped Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson was included on Wednesday in England’s 14-man squad for the second Test against Pakistan.
The 26-year-old trained with the squad during the West Indies series and took eight Hampshire wickets during his subsequent appearance in the Bob Willis Trophy — the first-class competition that is replacing the County Championship in a season cut short by the coronavirus.
But whether he makes a Test debut at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl ground on Thursday could depend on how the England attack that played in a three-wicket win in the first of a three-match series recovers from their exertions at Old Trafford last week.
Star all-rounder Ben Stokes has already been ruled out after playing in Manchester as he gets ready to return to New Zealand for family reasons.
Stokes will also miss the third Test and former England captain Michael Vaughan said his absence “will have a big effect on the England team’s psychology.”
Vaughan also told William Hill: “He (Stokes) plays a big, big role in that dressing room.
“Even though he’s not had a massive impact in terms of the ball or the bat in the last couple of games, he has a big impact with his persona in that dressing room.”
Vaughan, however, added: “Even though Ben Stokes is out I think England will be too strong.”
Robinson has been one of the most impressive bowlers in English domestic cricket in recent years, taking 137 wickets in total across the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
He also performed well in Australia during the second-string England Lions tour in the northern hemisphere winter and took two wickets in the intra-squad match between Team Stokes and Team (Jos) Buttler in Southampton at the start of last month.
Both Chris Woakes, the man of the match last week, and Stuart Broad are in fine form.
But the pair have played in three Tests in under four weeks, England will want to assess their fitness as well as that of fellow paceman Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Sam Curran before deciding on their final XI

ENGLAND SQUAD
Joe Root (Yorkshire, capt), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Dom Bess (Somerset), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire, wkt), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)