Between 2008-2015, Novak Djokovic was the player to beat at the ATP Finals, claiming five out of eight titles and becoming one of the ATP premium event's legends. Following four straight titles between 2012-15, Novak has failed to repeat that in the previous four trips to London, staying on five titles and trailing one behind Roger Federer.
Novak had a solid campaign at the ATP Finals a couple of weeks ago, beating Diego Schwartzman and Alexander Zverev to reach the semis. There, Novak suffered a tough 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 loss to Dominic Thiem in just under three hours, missing a chance to reach the final for the second straight season.
Asked about his winning streak in London and failures in the last couple of years, Novak said you couldn't win this tournament every year, with such strong rivals across the net in every match. Novak and Dominic played one of the best encounters of the season, and the Serb wasted his chances at 4-0 in the deciding tie break, allowing his rival to turn the tables and cross the finish line first.
It was their 12th meeting and the fifth victory for the Austrian, who had a massive opportunity to seal the deal in set number two, wasting four match points and barely surviving in the end. Novak lost serve only once, giving his best to remain in touch and wasting that massive advantage in the final breaker to finish his run in the semis.
They both served well in the opening set, with Djokovic standing two points away from the finish line on the return in game ten.
Novak Djokovic's last ATP Finals crown came in 2015.
Dominic remained calm and brought that game home to level the score, securing a break at 5-5 and wrapping up the set with an ace down the T line in game 12.
There was nothing to separate the rivals in set number two, with one break chance for each player in games five and eight. Thiem fended off two set points at 5-6 to reach a tie break and creating four match points. Djokovic repelled them all to stay alive, stealing the breaker 12-10 for a massive boost ahead of the decider.
After drama and excitement, two great rivals started all over in the final set, serving well and reaching the decisive tie break after over 160 minutes. Thiem hit a double fault in the first point and fell 3-0 down after two service winners from Djokovic.
Eager to fight until the end, Dominic came from 4-0 down and won the next five points for a remarkable recovery and a 5-4 lead after an ace. A fantastic backhand crosscourt winner brought two match points for the Austrian, converting the second at 6-5 to seal the deal and advance into the final.