Tuesday Preview: Djokovic Continues Year-End No. 1 Push Against Thiem
Six-time champion Roger Federer got Tuesday's action started at the Nitto ATP Finals with a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory against first-time qualifier Matteo Berrettini. In the evening session, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem will look to maintain the momentum from their opening round-robin wins on Sunday.
The Serbian, with Rafael Nadal's loss to Alexander Zverev Monday evening, now controls his destiny in the battle for year-end No. 1. He is trying to tie Pete Sampras for the most year-end No. 1 finishes with six. The second seed is also pursuing a record-tying sixth Nitto ATP Finals title. Djokovic leads Thiem 6-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
“We know how good of a player he is on clay. He's been proving that he can play equally well on other surfaces,” Djokovic said. “He's already established [himself as a] Top 5, Top 10 player. We don't need to talk about his qualities. Quality is great. His dedication and professionalism and hard work ethics is fantastic, and he's a really nice guy. So all positive things about him.”
Scenario For Semi-final Qualification In Group Bjorn Borg
|Dominic Thiem qualifies Tuesday if...|| - He defeats Djokovic and Federer beats Berrettini.
Djokovic defeated Thiem here three years ago, overcoming the disappointment of losing a 22-point first-set tie-break to win the next two sets with the loss of just two games. But the Austrian star won their most recent meeting in five sets at Roland Garros earlier this year.
“I think he's the best right now. He proved that also in Bercy where he didn't somehow play his best tennis, but still won the title pretty easy, so that's how good his level is.” Thiem said. “I will watch that match in Roland Garros a little bit, because it was very good, of course. Was also, most of the time, the right tactics I played. Of course it's not the same here. Was clay outdoor back then and now indoor. But some things I can use, for sure, in the match on Tuesday
“Probably right now it's the biggest challenge you can face, to play Novak.”
Thiem has proven he can compete on hard courts, winning an ATP Masters 1000 title on the surface this year in Indian Wells and then capturing ATP 500 trophies in Beijing and Vienna. After defeating Federer in two sets Sunday evening, Thiem will have plenty of confidence. But the 26-year-old knows his pursuit of reaching a maiden semi-final at the Nitto ATP Finals on his fourth appearance is far from over.
“The system is pretty brutal, I would say, because I had an amazing victory today. I'm feeling great. I'm feeling now that I have a good chance to reach the semis. But if I lose on Tuesday, for example, everything is completely open again, and I have to worry about everything on the next match on Thursday,” Thiem said. “So the only thing I can do is to rest well tomorrow, practise well, and be fully focussed again on Tuesday."