Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal produced some of the finest tennis of the year when they locked horns at the Nitto ATP Finals on Tuesday. Both players were operating very close to their peak level, which meant that nearly every point was a spectacle. Whenever Rafael Nadal came up with one great shot, Dominic Thiem produced a better one - and vice versa.
Thiem ultimately defeated the Spaniard over two tiebreaks, by raising his level even higher on the biggest of points. But the contest was of such high quality that many were left disappointed it didn't go to a third set.
Speaking to laola1.at after the match, Jurgen Melzer showered rich praise on Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal for producing a battle for the ages. Melzer also revealed the discussions that took place around the Players Lounge at the O2 Arena during the match, where his fellow viewers likened Dominic Thiem’s tussle with Rafael Nadal to a video game.
"There aren't enough superlatives, it was tennis at its highest level,” Melzer said. “Some players watched from the lounge and couldn’t believe the level of play. They said it looked like PlayStation tennis without any mistakes. Over 60 winners that’s just sick.”
Jurgen Melzer noted that even though both Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem played at similar levels, it was the Austrian who outshone his opponent in both of the tiebreaks. Thiem clawed his way back from a 5-2 deficit in the opening set tiebreak, before eventually clinching it with a 9-7 margin.
"Domi played the tiebreaks extremely well,” Melzer added. “The level was absolutely top of both of them. I can't think of a match that would have been better this year.”
Dominic Thiem has qualified for the semifinals, Rafael Nadal still stands a chance
Stefanos Tsitsipas’ win over Andrey Rublev sent Dominic Thiem into the semifinals while also knocking out the Russian. That means Rafael Nadal will have to fight it out against the Greek in a virtual quarterfinal on Thursday, with the winner set to join Thiem in the semis.
As things stand, the Austrian will top his group even if he loses to Andrey Rublev on Thursday. The 27-year-old has a positive head-to-head against both Nadal and Thiem and will thus edge them on that metric.
Rafael Nadal or Stefanos Tsitsipas will have to be content with a second-place finish, which could potentially see them locking horns with Novak Djokovic in the semis.
The Serb is yet to qualify, but is widely expected to do so by topping his group.Published 18 Nov 2020, 23:54 IST