the Fifth seed Dominic Thiem is into the championship match of the Nitto ATP Finals after a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Alexander Zverev in the second semifinal at the O2 Arena. Thiem will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday.
The Austrian had never advanced beyond the group stage in three previous appearances in London, but he finds himself one win away from the biggest title of his career after his sixth win in eight meetings against the defending champion.
Thiem edges nervy first set with late break
Both men found themselves facing early holes on serve. Thiem saved a break point in the third game with some big serving whilst Zverev escaped a 0-30 deficit in the next game to keep pace with the Austrian.
Thiem was in trouble again in his very next service game, facing a break point and saving it with a serve-forehand combination for a 3-2 lead. After some quickfire holds, the Austrian faced more pressure at 15-30, but an ace got him to 30-30 and he subsequently held for a 6-5 edge.
Serving to stay in the set, Zverev fell behind 15-30 and badly missed on a forehand to bring up double set point for Thiem. The world number five sliced a backhand into the net on his first chance, but was gifted the second when the German double-faulted.
Austrian claims final spot with some clutch play
The first four games of the second set mirrored much of the first set as both players held with ease. The fifth game would prove to be decisive. Zverev found himself in trouble after another double fault and two missed overheads.
Saving those chances and a third, the fourth was taken by Thiem when the Austrian fired off a backhand that the German tamely netted to assume a 4-2 advantage. The defending champion then held a break point in the next game, but sent a forehand just long.
Saving the opportunity, Thiem presented Zverev with a second after a wild forehand miss and was lucky to save the break point after a lucky net cord set up an easy forehand putaway. The Austrian fought to hold and move within a game of victory.
After Zverev held to 30 to force Thiem to serve out the match, the German won the first point, but could progress no further as the Austrian sealed his spot in the final with a forehand down the line. Thiem will move to a career-high ranking of fourth in the world on Monday.