Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal produced some high-octane tennis at the Nitto ATP Finals on Tuesday, in what many are calling the best match of the year. Eventually, Thiem proved too clutch for the Spaniard, and he won 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) to all but seal his spot in the semifinals.
Both players ensured that the match more than lived up to the hype, with some fabulous shot-making from start to finish. Dominic Thiem’s level was a little higher than that of Nadal’s in the tiebreakers though, which was the only thing separating the two players.
After the victory, the Austrian claimed that this was not only his best performance since the resumption of the tour, but also one of the best of his career.
The 27-year-old began by ranking this win ahead of his US Open triumph against Alexander Zverev, even though the latter gave him his maiden Grand Slam title.
“Honestly I think I played today a little bit higher level than at the US Open,” Thiem said. “This was maybe the best match I played since the resuming of the tour.”
The World No. 3, who will play Andrey Rublev in his last group match, ranked the win over Nadal just behind his performance against Novak Djokovic a year ago at the same event.
“It was definitely one of the best matches I have played in my career,” Thiem added. “It came close to the 2nd group match last year against Djokovic. We both played great tennis. Then, matches like this can happen."
It's always difficult against Rafael Nadal because we know he never gives up: Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem praised Rafael Nadal for his indomitable fighting spirit, which was particularly in evidence during the second set. The Spaniard even saved three back-to-back match points on serve at 4-5, ultimately stretching the set to a tiebreaker.
"It was a great match from the first to the last ball," Thiem said. "It is always difficult against Rafael because we know that he never gives up."
Dominic Thiem made it a point to mention his fans in Austria, and expressed hope that his performance against Rafael Nadal had given them something to cheer about in the face of a much stricter second national lockdown.
“These are tough times for many people, there is that realization among all the tennis players who are here now," the Austrian continued. "Also, in Austria, there is a strict lockdown, so I hope that the people who watched for two hours were lost in the game for a while. We are in a fortunate position to be able to do our job and hopefully make people happy with it."Published 18 Nov 2020, 00:15 IST