ATP Finals: Thiem tamed as Rublev signs off in style

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their tennis match at the ATP World Finals tennis tournament at the O2 arena in London Thursday Nov. 19 2020

Rublev grabbed an early break in the second set but faltered at 4-3 when a netted forehand allowed Thiem to level.

"It's sad to say goodbye to this unbelievable place, but it's what we are facing around the world so I'm just excited to be in the semi-finals and hope to be ready to try my best".

"I started really well since the first point, the first return and I think Dominic didn't start that well", said Rublev.

Tsitsipas, beaten by Thiem on Sunday, took full advantage of his fortune to win the next two points and keep his hopes of advancing to the semi-finals in his own hands. Rublev has now won three consecutive matches against Thiem and leads his Head2Head series against the Austrian for the first time (3-2).

A well-struck backhand earned Tsitsipas a couple of set points out of the blue and while Nadal saved one with a first serve he then double-faulted to send the match into a decider.

"I think I played quite well for such a long time". After that, everything changed a little bit.

Nadal finished off the set with successive aces and, considering he was on a 70-match winning streak when taking the first set, it was clear what an uphill task this was for Tsitsipas.

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Nadal controlled the match until the 10th game of the second set, when he dropped his serve while serving to stay in the set.

With Dominic Thiem - who Tsitsipas defeated in last year's final - having already qualified, Thursday's clash was a battle to see who else would progress from the group. "I should have handled it a little bit more clever and patiently, but it didn't happen". Most of the time, you get here a little bit exhausted, but this year is a little bit different...

Both players were rock solid on serve until Nadal earned the first two break points of the set in the seventh game, which he failed to convert.

Tsitsipas' momentum did not last long, though, Nadal getting the better of three successive breaks to start the deciding set and pulling away to clinch victory. Russia's Andrey Rublev celebrates winning his group stage match against Austria's Dominic Thiem.

"So with the fact I was already qualified, in the back on my mind it was hard to keep the intensity alive".

Searching for his first triumph in the season-ending competition, Nadal was made to work for his sixth career win over the world number six, eventually triumphing 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 at London's O2 Arena.

But this year the situation was much simpler, the victor between the duo will join World number three Dominic Thiem to reach the last four.

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