Fixture: (1) Novak Djokovic vs (3) Dominic Thiem
Date: 21 November 2020
Tournament: Nitto ATP Finals 2020
Venue: London, United Kingdom
Category: ATP Finals
Surface: Indoor hardcourt
Prize money: $5,700,000
Match timing: Not before 2 pm GMT, 7.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | India - Sony / Sony Liv
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem preview
In a repeat of the 2020 Australian Open final, top seed Novak Djokovic will take on Dominic Thiem in the first semifinal at the Nitto ATP Finals on Saturday.
Both players have seen massive success since their previous match. Djokovic comes into the match with a 41-4 W/L record this year and four titles, despite the topsy-turvy nature of the season. However, the Serb has lost three of his last seven matches, and for a change is not the form player in the matchup.
The World No. 1 started his week off with a win against Diego Schwartzman, but then lost tamely to Daniil Medvedev in a match that lasted just a little over one hour. Djokovic went on to defeat Alexander Zverev 6-3 7-6 in a must-win encounter to reach his ninth semifinal at the year-ending event.
Dominic Thiem, on the other hand, will be full of confidence despite losing to Andrey Rublev in his final match of the round-robin stage. Following his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in September, the Austrian has looked the part this week.
Thiem won his first match against defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets, avenging his defeat to the Greek in last year's final. Then, in what was one of the best performances of his career, the World No. 3 beat Rafael Nadal in consecutive tiebreaks to cement his status as the player to beat.
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem head-to-head
The semifinal matchup in London is the 12th meeting between the pair, and Novak Djokovic currently leads the head-to-head 7-4 over Dominic Thiem. Prior to this year's Australian Open final, which Djokovic won in five sets, Thiem had beaten the Serb in one of the best matches of the 2019 season at the ATP Finals.
The Austrian's other three wins against Djokovic all came on clay, including two wins at Roland Garros (2017 quarterfinal and 2019 semifinal). Djokovic has been dominant in most of their hardcourt matchups apart from the London meeting last year.
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem prediction
Although both players have won two matches in the group stages, Dominic Thiem comes into the semifinal against Novak Djokovic as the slight favorite.
The Austrian’s encounter against Nadal was a match-of-the-season contender. Thiem’s ability to match his GOAT opponent’s outstanding shot-making, and to produce his most explosive tennis in the biggest of moments, had to be seen to be believed.
The 27-year-old’s deep and powerful groundstrokes coupled with his quick movement make him a force to reckon with. However, he will now go up against the best redirector of pace on a tennis court in Djokovic.
The Serb’s defensive skills have rightly earned him legendary status. And despite an insipid performance against Medvedev, he looked back on track against Zverev. Djokovic didn't concede a single break of serve during the match, and used a wide array of shots to outsmart his powerful opponent.
Thiem’s inside-out forehand and down-the-line backhand are both weapons on indoor hardcourt. However, Djokovic’s proficiency in longer exchanges and his ability to wear down his opponents could well reduce their effectiveness on Saturday.
Much like their encounter last year, this match seems like a blockbuster in the making which will be decided by very slim margins. But if Thiem reproduces the level he showed against Nadal, then defeating him may prove to be a difficult task for Djokovic.
Prediction: Dominic Thiem to win in three sets.Published 20 Nov 2020, 23:42 IST