After five tough months for the world of tennis, we have seen encouraging news in August, with the restart of the WTA season and the first Challengers next week. Tennis fans will have to wait for another week to see the ATP action in New York, with Cincinnati and the US Open taking place in three weeks, followed by the European clay swing that kicks off in Kitzbuhel in September.
Overall, there will be 13 post-coronavirus events, with the ATP Finals as the final one, set for London's O2 Arena from November 15. The ATP has confirmed three players who have qualified for London, announcing Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem as the earliest passengers for the season finale.
World no. 3 Dominic Thiem will compete at the ATP Finals for the fifth straight season, securing London berth following a strong campaign at the Australian Open. Suffering losses to Borna Coric and Hubert Hurkacz at the ATP Cup, Dominic raised his level in Melbourne, prevailing over Rafael Nadal in the quarters and beating Alexander Zverev to find himself in the third Major final.
Giving his 120% against the seven-time champion Novak Djokovic, Thiem led two sets to one before suffering a 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss in four hours. Djokovic won ten points more overall, forcing more errors from Dominic and hitting fewer unforced mistakes, although all the numbers were mighty close.
Nothing could separate them in the mid-range exchanges while the Serb had a slim advantage in the shortest and most advanced rallies, recovering after a loose performance in the third set to reign supreme. There were five breaks on each side, and Novak used all of his experience and the spirit of a champion to cross the finish line first and stay undefeated in the 16th semi-final and final meetings in Melbourne.
Dominic Thiem will compete at the ATP Finals for the fifth straight year.
Thiem kicked off the deciding set with a strong hold, matched by Djokovic who leveled the score at 1-1 with a hold at love after a forehand winner, having the momentum on his side after the fourth set.
Novak finally grabbed his first break since the second set in game three thanks to a forehand error from Dominic, with the Austrian squandering two break chances in the next one that could have brought him back to the positive side of the scoreboard.
With his back pushed against the wall, Thiem had to face a deuce in the fifth game, winning the next couple of points for a vital hold and staying within one break deficit. Dominic repelled a break point with a service winner in game seven, closing it to remain in touch.
Novak produced a service winner in game eight to keep his advantage, forcing the rival to serve for staying in contention at 3-5. Showing no signs of nerves, Thiem held at 15 when Djokovic sprayed a backhand mistake, reducing the deficit to 5-4 and returning to stay in the competition.
He opened the tenth game with a backhand down the line winner, denied by Djokovic who placed an ace for a 15-15 and held after a forehand error from Thiem to celebrate the title. In his last match before the coronavirus outbreak, Thiem lost to Gianluca Mager in the quarter-final, hoping for a better run in New York.
The Austrian has won six out of 14 encounters at the ATP Finals, failing to pass the group stage in the first three trips before reaching the final last November, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the deciding tie break.