Andrey Rublev ended his career-best season on a high by defeating Dominic Thiem in his final group-stage match at the Nitto ATP Finals. The Russian had no chance of making the semis after losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday, but he still came out all guns blazing to halt the Dominic Thiem Express.
Despite completely outplaying Thiem, Rublev continues to believe that the 27-year-old remains the most deserving candidate to lift the title on Sunday. In his post-match press conference, the Russian suggested that Thiem’s below-par performance could be attributed to the Austrian having already secured his spot in the semis.
“In the end, it was not easy for Domi, but I think he (was) already focused for the semis,” Rublev said. “He deserves to be where he is and he deserves to win the title, we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Dominic Thiem came into this match on the back of two resounding wins, against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafael Nadal. In doing so the Austrian not only qualified for the semis but also knocked Rublev out of the tournament, making the match on Thursday a dead rubber.
Given the situation, Thiem understandably struggled to find the usual intensity and conviction in his groundstrokes. And Rublev explained how he 'took 'advantage' of that to breeze through the opening set, winning it 6-2.
“I started really well, since the first point, the first return,” Rublev said. “Dominic didn’t start well and I took advantage. It gave me confidence and helped me to be better and better.”
I wanted to win the match 100%: Dominic Thiem
After Dominic Thiem went a set and a break down in less than an hour, questions started being raised about the Austrian’s intent. Some even insinuated that Thiem was tanking the match to conserve his energy ahead of the semifinals on Saturday.
But the World No. 3 rubbished all such notions and asserted that he was fully invested in the match. Dominic Thiem did admit, however, that he found it tough to replicate his intensity from the previous matches given that he had already qualified for the semis.
“It was difficult to keep the amazing intensity I had in the first two matches,” Thiem said. “I wanted to win the match 100% but still, I mean, the first matches were pretty tough or pretty long. I had a great, great intensity in almost every single rally there. So of course with the fact that I was already qualified in the back of my mind, it was maybe difficult today to keep that intensity alive."
The 27-year-old is slated to take on the winner of Friday's match between Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev for a place in the final.Published 19 Nov 2020, 23:17 IST