Dominic Thiem defeated Rafael Nadal 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-4) at the O2 Arena in London on Tuesday. The victory meant the Thiem has become the first player to book a spot in the semi-finals of the 2020 ATP Finals.
The high-quality thriller of a match was the Austrian's second victory at the season-ending event, but it didn't come easy. In fact, it was Nadal who was at the driver's seat with two set points in the first set tie-break. However, Thiem kept his cool and managed to keep Nadal at bay, eventually securing the set.
The second set also went all the way to tie-break. The Austrian managed cross the finish line on his fifth match point.
Thiem's victory over Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas' win against Andrey Rublev meant that Thiem is already guaranteed to advance.
Defending champion Tsitsipas played another thrilling match in the same evening against Rublev. He survived a match point but eventually pulled through 6-1 4-6 7-6 (8-6). Rublev's loss means that he no longer has a chance to qualify.
The winner between Nadal and Tsitsipas on Thursday will earn another berth in the semi-finals.
"It was a great match from the first to last point," said Thiem. "I was pretty lucky to get that first set after being 5-2 down in the tie-break," he told the BBC.
Thiem also said that fans would have loved watching such an intense, high quality match. Sadly, no one was allowed into the arena due to health and safety concerns in relation to the novel coronavirus pandemic. "The atmosphere would've been unreal [if fans were in the arena]. We put on a good show for those watching on television."
Nadal, who is seeking his maiden ATP finals trophy, is pleased with the way he played despite the loss. He also had nothing but commendations for thiem. "Just well done to him. He played, I think, an amazing match and I played well too. My feeling is not negative. I lost but I had plenty of chances in the first and then I had a break in the second. I think my chances are bigger to have a very good result now than five days ago because the level of tennis, even if I lost today, is much higher," he concluded.