Tennis

Nadal fights back from near defeat to keep semi-final hopes alive

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal fought back from the brink of defeat to keep alive his hopes of qualifying for the last four of the ATP Finals at London's O2 Arena last night.

The Spaniard, who had lost to Alexander Zverev on Monday, trailed Russia's Daniil Medvedev 1-5 in the third set before clawing his way back to win 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).

Earlier yesterday morning (Singapore time), Dominic Thiem produced a scintillating display of attacking tennis to beat world No. 2 Novak Djokovic to reach the semi-finals of the season-ending event, leaving the Serb to face a shoot-out against Roger Federer.

In an absorbing encounter, the Austrian fifth seed took the fight to the world No. 2, recovering from losing the first set to triumph 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).

Earlier, Federer put himself back in the mix with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 win against Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini in their round-robin clash.

Federer and Djokovic will face off tomorrow morning (Singapore time) in a repeat of this year's Wimbledon final to determine who else will progress from Group Bjorn Borg.

Thiem was forced to play high-stakes tennis against the 16-time Grand Slam winner, taking the breath away with some of his inside-out forehands and single-handed backhands.

Forced to play at his limit, he hit 50 winners compared with Djokovic's tally of 27, but also racked up 44 unforced errors.

"This was really one of those special matches, what I've practised all my life for, all my childhood for," Thiem said.

"Really epic one in an amazing atmosphere, beating a legend of our game. And also I've qualified for the semi-finals, which is the best.

"Coming back from 1-4 (down in the deciding tie-break) was a little bit of luck, but it was an unbelievable match and one I'll never forget. Novak is the best player in the world and I had to do something special."

Third-seed Federer had put himself under the cosh by losing his opening round-robin match to Thiem. The six-time champion was not at his best on Tuesday but, ultimately, had too much for his Italian opponent. - AFP

Tennis