Nadal reaches semifinals at ATP Finals after beating Tsitsipas

Carrie Guzman
November 20, 2020

Spaniard Nadal, bidding to win the only big title to elude him, engineered the first break of the match at 3-3 in the second set only for Thiem to reply in stunning fashion. "I'm happy for that and I'm looking forward to that semi-final against Daniil". Crucially he saved a couple of set points in the first tiebreak before whipping away a forehand to take an opening set in which there was barely a cigarette paper between the two.

Rafael Nadal survived a fightback from Stefanos Tsitsipas to secure his spot in the last four of the ATP Finals at the expense of the defending champion.

Nadal had won his previous 70 matches when winning the first set so Tsitsipas's prospects looked bleak, but he was handed an unexpected lifeline when Nadal hit trouble serving at 4-5.

Austrian world no. 3 Thiem will shrug off the defeat and now has a day off to prepare for Saturday's semi-finals. That helped me to have more confidence and helped me to play better and better... "I think I started to serve a little bit worse but, in general terms, it [was] a very positive match for me". After that, everything changed a little bit.

The set was wrapped up six minutes later thanks to successive aces, and the pressure was back on Tsitsipas at the start of set two, though he escaped with a brilliant cross-court backhand.

Tsitsipas once again failed to make the most of his opportunity, though, and a fourth successive break followed as Nadal reclaimed the advantage - a lead he would not relinquish.

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The 22-year-old did a much better job of dominating on his own serve in the second set but got nowhere near Nadal's until the Spaniard served to stay in the set at 4-5. Although a double fault caused him to lose the second set, he was tough enough to see off a rushing Tsitsipas in the deciding set.

Small details: Nadal said "small details" decided a superb contest and remains confident he can still win the elusive title, although on Thursday he faces a shootout with Tsitsipas, who survived an ambush by Russian debutant Rublev to win 6-1 4-6 7-6 (6). He dropped only three points on serve and had no unforced errors in that set.

Rublev regrouped, broke Thiem after a long next game featuring some intense rallies, then served out the match for his first win in his debut at the season-ending tournament.

The already-qualified Thiem was short of energy, too, when play eventually began.

The victory means Salisbury has made the last four at London's O2 for the first time, while the Australian Open champions' hopes of finishing the season as the world's No 1 doubles pair are very much alive.

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