Djokovic comes from behind to begin ATP World Tour Finals with victory
- Author: Angelo Rivera Nov 19, 2016,
Nov 19, 2016, 6:58
Novak Djokovic battled back from a set down to beat Dominic Thiem 6-7 (10-12) 6-0 6-2 in his opening match of the ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 in London.
But Djokovic couldn't find a breakthrough and the set went to a tie-break.
The Austrian rarely troubled the Djokovic serve but dug in several times on his own to show no nerves and force what turned out to be a truly pulsating tie break.
The Serbian, victor of the season-ending event for the last four years and five times in total, lost an opening set tiebreak to Austria's debutante Dominic Thiem 12-10.
For Thiem, who just squeaked into the elite-eight event for the first time, no one was quite sure what to expect from his debut at the London O2 Arena.
Before the start of play, Djokovic was a combined 23-0 against his group opponents, and 3-0 against Thiem including their Roland Garros semifinal, whom he had yet to lose a set to.
While Djokovic and new world number one Andy Murray look set to dominate in 2017, the likes of Thiem, Germany's Alex Zverev, Australian Nick Kyrgios and several others are beginning to make inroads into the top echelons of the game. Their last two meetings came this year, with Djokovic defeating Thiem in the round of sixteen of the 2016 Miami Masters, 6-3, 6-4, and during the 2016 French Open semifinal, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. "Three Grand Slams in three years was something I never expected". I managed to regroup and play well. After that I felt very comfortable on the court, I put a lot of returns back and made him play an extra shot'.
Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils will play the second Ivan Lendl Group match at 20:00 GMT on Sunday, after Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares take on Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi in the doubles.
Four-time defending ATP World Tour Finals Champion Novak Djokovic begins his quest to regain his world number one status.
Tour Finals debutant Thiem, the ambitious 23-year-old who has won titles on every surface, is touted as the next star of the men's game, and duly stood and traded with Djokovic in the first set. I guess that can help me to be more emotional on the court, more motivated.
"He's a tough player".
"I have to obviously focus on myself, on my game, and implement as well a few tactical things I know from playing Andy". I started swinging more freely in the second set. "Even though I lost the first set, I thought I didn't do too many things wrong".
In danger of another frustrating loss, Djokovic was finally able to turn his anger into a positive at the start of the second set as unloaded a series of powerful winners.
The Serb was in no mood to relinquish his advantage and quickly found himself with three match points, but he needed only the one to go one step closer to history and his old number one spot.