London, November 20
Rafael Nadal advanced to the semifinals at the ATP Finals for the first time in five years and knocked out the defending champion in the process, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 4-6 6-2 at the O2 Arena.
It is the sixth time in 10 appearances that Nadal has reached the last-4 of the season-ending tournament, which is the biggest title he has yet to win in his illustrious careers.
Tsitsipas won it on his first try last year but exited after a second loss of the group stage, done in by a shaky serve in the third set when he was broken three times.
Nadal never looked threatened on his serve against Tsitsipas until the final game of the second set, when he double-faulted to hand the Greek a way back into the match. “I think I was winning my serves quite comfortably until that moment,” Nadal said. “After that, everything changed.”
Suddenly, neither player could hold serve as the third set started with three straight breaks, with Nadal taking a 2-1 lead. The Spaniard finally held and broke again for a 5-2 lead before the clinching the win on his second match point. “In general this was a very positive match for me,” said Nadal.
Nadal, who improved to 6-1 against Tsitsipas, will play Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals tomorrow. Thiem will face Novak Djokovic.
London’s farewell edition of the ATP Finals could still have its dream climax after world No. 1 Djokovic beat Alexander Zverev 6-3 7-6(4) to seal a last-four spot today.
Defeat by Medvedev had left the five-time champion needing to beat Germany’s Zverev to avoid a group stage exit and he obliged with a relatively comfortable win.
Djokovic will finish second in the Tokyo Group, named after the first edition of the season-ending tournament 50 years ago, and with world No. 2 Nadal finishing second in the London Group, they have avoided a semifinal clash. Sunday’s final will end the tournament’s 12-year stay in London before it re-locates to Turin. — Agencies