Defending champion and world no.2 Novak Djokovic rallied from a set down to beat no.8 seed Dominic Thiem 6-7 (10), 6-0, 6-2 in their opening round robin match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London on Sunday.
The first “Ivan Lendl” Group clash at The O2 Arena lasted just over two hours. It was the fourth victory for Djokovic in as many career meetings with the 23-year-old Austrian.
Games went with serve in the opening set. Thiem had his first set point at 6-3 in the tie-breaker, but he double-faulted twice and then put a backhand into the net to make it 6-6. Novak had a chance, too, leading 9-8, but he couldn’t close it out with Thiem serving. The eighth seed finally won it on his seventh set point with a forehand winner.
Novak recovered quickly and produced an impressive display of power tennis in the remainder, breaking his rival three times in the second set and twice in the third.
“Dominic started very well, he deserved the first set. We played on a high level from the very first point. He was going for his shots. The tie-break was deservedly won by him,” said Djokovic. “After that, I managed to regroup and play very well. I felt comfortable on the court in the second set and made him play an extra shot.”
Match statistics: aces (3-4), double faults (0-3), total points won (101-75).
Novak next plays Milos Raonic (Tuesday at 21:00 CET). The Belgrade native has a perfect 7-0 record against the Canadian who beat Gael Monfils in opener 6-3, 6-4.
Djokovic is looking to win an unprecedented fifth successive crown at the ATP World Tour Finals, which would put him level with Roger Federer’s tournament record of six titles.
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