- Novak Djokovic is looking for his first ATP Tour Finals title in five years
- His last two hard-court clashes with Dominic Thiem have been epics
- Djokovic is the favorite. Given their recent history, we analyze if an upset is in the cards
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal might have finished second in their respective pool groups.
But the world No. 1 and No. 2 might just have been taking the long way around towards a Sunday meeting at the Nitto ATP Tour Finals.
To do it, Djokovic will have to get past an opponent, Dominic Thiem, who has given him fits on hard courts over the last 12 months.
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem Odds
| Novak Djokovic (SRB)||-2.5 (-105)||-157||O 22.5 (-122)|
| Dominic Thiem (AUT)||+2.5 (-117)||+132||U 20.5 (+102)|
Odds taken Nov 20 at DraftKings
For his part, Nadal will have to beat the red-hot Daniil Medvedev in the other semi taking place on Saturday.
The #NittoATPFinals semi-finalists have won the last 10 Grand Slam titles between them.
🏆 Djokovic: 5
🏆 Nadal: 4
🏆 Thiem: 1
They've also won the last 9 ATP Masters 1000 titles between them.
🏆 Djokovic: 4
🏆 Medvedev: 3
🏆 Nadal: 2 pic.twitter.com/1KW7ga5oFP
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 20, 2020
The four top-ranked players in the world, and the four top pre-tournament favorites, have made the final four in London.
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem Head-to-Head
|33 (May 22, 1987)||Age||27 (Sept. 3, 1993)|
|Belgrade, Serbia||Birthplace||Wiener Neustadt, Austria|
|81||Career ATP Singles Titles||17|
|No. 1 (July 4, 2011)||Career High Ranking||No. 3 (March 2, 2020)|
|No. 1||Current Ranking||No. 3|
|41-4||2020 W/L Record (Including ATP Finals)||24-8|
|$145,197,177||Career Prize Money||$27,302,125|
Inconsistent Djokovic Goes 2-1 in Group Play
Djokovic’s round-robin adventure was a tale of three vastly different matches.
He looked imperious in a 6-3, 6-2 opening win over Diego Schwartzman.
Against Medevev in his second match, he was extremely flat in a 6-3, 6-3 loss. And went through a period where he seemed physically uncomfortable.
His 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Alexander Zverev, a win-or-go-home match that allowed him to qualify for the semifinals, was good enough. But it was far from emphatic.
Still, the main thing is to get there.
Djokovic vs Thiem – ATP Finals Round-Robin Stats
|Player||Won-Loss||Sets W/L & %||Games W/L & %|
| Novak Djokovic (SRB)||2-1 (2nd in Group)||4-2 (66.67%)||31-26 (54.39%)|
| Dominic Thiem (AUS)||2-1 (1st in Group)||4-3 (57.14%)||38-40 (48.72%)|
Thiem Beats Nadal in Group Play
Thiem got past Stefanos Tsitsipas, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3 in a tight opener. But the crown jewel of his week was a two-hour and 25-minute, two-tiebreak win over Rafael Nadal.
It was arguably the best match in the pool portion of the tournament.
The Austrian’s finale against Schwartzman was meaningless in terms of his final standing. That he lost it 6-2, 7-5 was more an energy-saving exercise than anything.
He also comes into the semifinal with an extra day’s rest. Thiem played Schwartzman Thursday; Djokovic beat Zverev Friday afternoon. And they’re playing the day-session match (9:00 am EST)
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem – Previous Hard-Court Meetings
|2020||Australian Open||F||6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4||Djokovic|
|2019||Nitto ATP Finals||RR||6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (5)||Thiem|
|2016||Nitto ATP Finals||RR||6-7 (10), 6-0, 6-2||Djokovic|
Tight, Titanic Clashes on Hard Courts
Thiem wasn’t nearly as dangerous away from clay earlier in his career. But their last two meetings with Djokovic on hard courts have been as close as could be.
The Austrian made a big leap on that surface in 2019. And he took another step in New York in September when he won the US Open – his first major title – on a hard court.
Their battle in the Australian Open final in January was titanic. And their meeting a year ago in London was nip-and-tuck all the way.
Thiem said it was “maybe the best match he’s ever played”.
It took two hours and 47 minutes. Thiem won 110 points, Djokovic 108 points.
The biggest takeaway is that Thiem was 4-for-4 on break-point chances; Djokovic went 3-for-9.
Can Thiem Pull the Upset?
Thiem is a far more confident and accomplished hard-court player now than he was a year ago against Djokovic. He probably is capable of playing an even better match.
But it’s unlikely he can be perfect on break-point chances again. Similarly, it’s unlikely Djokovic will have such a relatively low conversion rate.
Thiem is at +650 on Bet365 to win from behind. Given he lost the first set in both of their recent hard-court clashes (one of them a victory, the other a tough five-setter), that’s a tempting play. He’s at +400 on DraftKings to win in three sets – whichever way he does it.
The total games odds go into the plus column at over 23.5. Given their history, that’s a no-brainer. Over 25.5 games (at +130) could even be accomplished in two sets if both go to tiebreaks.
There are also good odds (Thiem at +650, Djokovic at +550 on Bet365) for both to win the first set in a tiebreak.
Best Bet: Thiem in three sets (+400)
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