ATP Finals: Remake or revenge? One thing is certain, this Thiem – Djokovic has become a classic

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The context

They are now only four in contention in this Masters and they occupy… the first four places in the world ranking. Logic was therefore respected in this Masters tournament so different from those which preceded it. Firstly because of the closed door which deprives the players of the energy resulting from the support of the public. Then and above all because, the season having been suspended for a long time by the coronavirus pandemic, all the participants approached the event in much the same state of freshness.

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Consequently, the hierarchy of this 2020 edition has been more faithful to that determined by all the results of the season. Both Grand Slam winners on hard at the Australian Open and the US Open respectively, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem have very similar trajectories at the end of the season. Beaten in the quarter-finals in Vienna, they skipped the Rolex Paris Masters to tackle this last major meeting at 100% of their physical means. Before this semi-final, they also have the same record in the competition: two wins and one defeat each during the group stage.

The clear impression differs somewhat. Faced with Stéfanos Tsitsipas and then especially against Rafael Nadal, Thiem has evolved at a very high level, comparable (according to his own words) to that which allowed him to beat Djokovic in a huge group fight last year. (6-7, 6-3, 7-6 in 2h47). In a third game without a stake, “Dominator” saved himself somewhat for the rest. The world number 1, for his part, missed his subject against Daniil Medvedev, even appearing in streaks in difficulty both physically and mentally. But he delivered two other sufficiently strong and serious performances against Diego Schwartzman and Alexander Zverev to continue his quest for a 6th Masters title.

“In recent years, Thiem has been ahead of the ‘Big 3’ in terms of wins”

Face to face

  • Novak Djokovic leads 7-4 in his duels against Dominic Thiem. But the balance of power is much more balanced than it seems: the world number 1 had won the first 5 confrontations in 2016 and 2017. Since then, the Austrian has won 4 of the last 6 matches.
  • Their last three clashes in the semi-finals of Roland-Garros in 2019 (victory for Thiem 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5), in the group stage of the previous Masters (victory for Thiem 6-7, 6-3, 7-6) and in the final of the Australian Open 2020 (victory of Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4) were all decided in the deciding set.
  • At the Masters, Djokovic leads 2-1.

Their journey

1st round match: bat Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-2
2nd group match: defeated by Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3
3e match de poule: bat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6 (4)

1st group match: beats Stéfanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3
2nd group match: beats Rafael Nadal 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4)
3rd group match: beaten by Andrey Rublev 6-2, 7-5

Between Thiem and Nadal, it was a memorable fight: the highlights of an XXL match

They said

Novak Djokovic : I played against Dominic here last year, and I lost 7-6 in the third set in a really thrilling game. Hope we will play a big one again, but with a different outcome this time around.”

Dominic Thiem : I wanted to win my third group match, but the first two were quite hard and long… The objective for me in the semi-final is to be at 100% and to find the fantastic intensity that I have. deployed against Tsitsipas and Nadal.”

Three stats to remember

0. Novak Djokovic has not lost a game this season after winning the first set. His record: 35 wins for no defeat. The last to beat him in this configuration was a certain… Dominic Thiem in London last year.

9. The world number 1 is playing his 9th semi-final at the Masters. Only three players did better: Roger Federer (16), Ivan Lendl (12) and Pete Sampras (10).

3. For only the third time since 1990, the top four players in the world are in the Masters semi-finals. 30 years ago, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi had done it. In 2004, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin had also held their rank.

Our opinion

The last Thiem-Djokovic were so contested that it would be risky to give an undeniable favorite. Over the last decade on hard, indoor and outdoor and especially at the Masters, the world number 1 is undoubtedly the benchmark of the circuit. His serve so difficult to read – and so effective when he needs it most -, his exceptional throwback quality and his flawless or almost flawless ground coverage make him an almost impregnable player on this surface when he is at the top. of his art. But since the start of the tournament, although very solid in sequences, the “Djoker” has not yet found its cruising speed.

The prospect of ever closer to potentially equaling Roger Federer’s record – 6 Masters crowns – could be a game-changer. Djokovic is never as dangerous as in the money time, a characteristic that he shares with his two rivals of the “Big 3”. It would therefore not be surprising if he managed to raise his level to achieve his goal, and he does not lack confidence: his record this season (41 wins for 4 losses) speaks for him.

That being said, if there is one player who can keep up with the hellish pace in the exchange of the best Djokovic, it is Dominic Thiem. The last battles he fought against the three monsters prove it: the Austrian can now sit at the big table and look them in the eye without blinking. His natural power and his physical intensity can gradually push back the Serbian who will not be able to afford to relax his concentration: the sanction will then be the same as against Medvedev. For all these reasons, we are giving the Austrian a (very) slight advantage in a shock that we hope will be as good as in 2019.

Our prognosis: Dominic Thiem in 3 sets.

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