LONDON — Instead of No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 2 Rafael Nadal for the ATP Finals trophy, it’ll be No. 3 Dominic Thiem against No. 4 Daniil Medvedev.
Nadal had won 71 matches in a row when grabbing the opening set, and he served for the victory in Saturday’s semifinals when leading 5-4 in the second set. But Medvedev broke at love there and came all the way back to win 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3, claiming the last four games.
“It’s great that we managed to beat two of the biggest players in the history of the sport,” Medvedev said. “It’s super for tennis.”
Thiem frittered away four match points in his semifinal against Djokovic because he was “tight and nervous” during a second-set tiebreaker. Thiem gathered himself, though, and eventually reeled off seven of the match’s last eight points after trailing 4-0 in the last tiebreaker, winning 7-5, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5).
“What he did from 0-4 in the third-set tiebreaker was just unreal,” said Djokovic, a 17-time Grand Slam champion. “I don’t think I played bad. … He just crushed the ball and everything went in.”
Thiem ended Djokovic’s bid for a record-tying sixth ATP Finals trophy, while Medvedev prevented Nadal from continuing to pursue the most significant title the 20-time major champ hasn’t won.
Instead of a 57th meeting between Djokovic and Nadal, Thiem and Medvedev will face off for the fifth time. Thiem leads 3-1, including a straight-set victory in the U.S. Open semifinals in September en route to the 27-year-old Austrian’s first Grand Slam championship.
“I, for sure, can cause him some trouble,” Medvedev said.
Did that to Nadal, too.
Nadal seemed on his way to the final when he reeled off four consecutive games in the second set for a chance to serve for the match. He surprisingly stumbled.
“I played a bad game. That’s it,” said Nadal, who deflected a question about whether he had any physical issues during the match.
Once he was back in the match, Medvedev took advantage, dominating the ensuing tiebreaker with the help of a shanked lob winner, a forehand winner that concluded a 26-stroke exchange and a leaping backhand that drew a netted forehand.
Nadal couldn’t shake that off, dropping the match’s last three games as he serve-and-volleyed more than usual, sliced his backhand more than usual and made forehand errors more than usual.
Medvedev had been 0-3 against Nadal, including a five-set loss in the 2019 U.S. Open final, and the lanky 24-year-old Russian’s top-notch serve, capable backhand and willingness to hang in long baseline rallies provided Saturday’s breakthrough.
A year ago, Medvedev went 0-3 in round-robin play at the ATP Finals, while Thiem was the runner-up to Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Whoever wins Sunday on the indoor hard court — where things will be quiet because spectators are banned due to the coronavirus pandemic — will be the tournament’s sixth different champion over the past six years, the longest such stretch since 1974-79.
It was the first time since 2004 that the top four players in the rankings filled the four semifinal slots for the ATP Finals. Djokovic, already assured of finishing the year at No. 1 for a record-tying sixth time, was trying to match Roger Federer’s mark of six ATP Finals trophies.
In the second set against Djokovic, Thiem’s ace put him ahead 6-5 in the tiebreaker, one point from victory.
But Djokovic saved that initial chance with a 127 mph service winner. Thiem’s next opportunity came at 7-6; he double-faulted.
“I was, like, so tight in my whole body,” Thiem said.
The third was at 9-8, when he pushed a down-the-line forehand wide. At 10-9, Djokovic erased No. 4 with a forehand that landed right on a line.
That began a three-point run by Djokovic to steal the set.
But Thiem regrouped and his 300th career tour-level victory made him only the second man with at least five wins each against the Big Three of Djokovic (5-7 career mark), Federer (5-2) and Nadal (6-9). Andy Murray is the other.
“If you beat these guys,” Thiem said, “it gives you a huge boost of confidence.”
Note: Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares clinched the year-end No. 1 team ranking for men’s doubles when the other contenders, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, lost in Saturday’s semifinals to Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
In Pictures: Grief and shock over Maradona's death – Aljazeera.com
Hundreds of people have begun filing in to see the coffin of Diego Maradona in Buenos Aires’s Casa Rosada after the football legend died at the age of 60.
At a slow pace, people on Thursday passed in front of the coffin that was draped with the Argentinian flag and his number 10 jersey.
Scuffles briefly broke out as crowds jostled as they queued to enter and police had to hold people back.
Maradona’s family and closest friends came at dawn before the start of the public wake.
Tens of thousands of people spent the night in a vigil in the Plaza de Mayo, singing songs in tribute to Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup victory in 1986.
Stunned fans gathered outside the humble home where he was born and raised in the Villa Fiorito neighbourhood.
Fans also went to the stadium of Argentinos Juniors, where he started as a professional footballer in 1976. They stood at the historic La Bombonera stadium of his beloved Boca Juniors.
More were at the headquarters of Gimnasia La Plata, the team he was coaching.
“I am touched. I can’t understand it, I can’t see the reality. Diego will never die, today is the birth of the Maradona myth,” said Dante Lopez, a physician who went to the Argentinos Juniors stadium, which carries the beloved player’s name.
Fans put candles and flowers along the wall around the field.
“Diego was Argentina in the world. He gave us joy and we will never be able to repay him for so much joy,” said Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, who issued a decree for three days of national mourning and offered the presidential palace for the funeral.
Raptors waive centre Dewan Hernandez, open up additional roster spot – Sportsnet.ca
The 23-year-old battled injuries throughout his time with the Raptors organization after being selected 59th in the second round of the 2019 draft, and spent the vast majority of his on-court stints with Raptors 905, where he posted career stats of 13.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 40.8 per cent shooting in nine games.
Waiving Hernandez, whose deal was set to guarantee this coming weekend, also opens up an additional roster spot for the Raptors, who will likely use it on Canadian forward Oshae Brissett (he had a nice season on a two-way contract with the team last season) or a standout training camp invitee.
Report: Ravens record more positive COVID-19 tests – theScore
The positive tests from Wednesday include one player, one position coach, and one staff member, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Baltimore has reported multiple new cases every day since Sunday.
The Ravens’ Thanksgiving matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed to Sunday amid the team’s ongoing outbreak.
Baltimore has seven players on the reserve/COVID-19 list and an unconfirmed number of positives among coaches and staff.
The AFC North club disciplined a strength and conditioning coach Wednesday for failing to report symptoms, or wear a mask or tracking device consistently, which may have led to the outbreak.
If the game can’t be played Sunday, it’s possible the NFL will have to use its contingency plan of adding a Week 18 to make up delayed games.
If the NFL does add Week 18, it could push back the start of the playoffs or eliminate the extra week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.
Nova Scotia reporting 14 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday – CBC.ca
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