World No. 2 Rafael Nadal said Dominic Thiem wasn't necessary the better player on the court but the Spaniard noted that the Austrian played better in the key points and because of that he absolutely deserved the win. Thiem, ranked at No.
3 in the world, edged out Nadal in two tight sets 7-6 (7) 7-6 (4) to improve to 2-0 at the Nitto ATP Finals and push the Spaniard to a 1-1 record. "He created damage on me with his general game and I created damage on his as well.
He wasn't the better player and I wasn't the better player. He deserves the victory because he played the big points very well," Nadal said after the match, per Nikolaus Fink. "It was a great match of tennis.
It was decided by small details. He played an amazing match and I played well too. My feeling is not negative."
Nadal remains positive
Nadal, who recently equaled Roger Federer's all-time Grand Slam record of 20 Majors captured, is aiming to lift his maiden Nitto ATP Finals title at the age of 34.
In his final Round Robin match, Nadal will take on reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. "I think my chances are bigger to have a very good result now than five days ago because the level of tennis -- even if I lost today -- for me is much higher," Nadal claimed, per Tennis Majors.
Nadal had a 5-2 lead in the first-set tie-break -- had set points at 6-5 and 7-6 -- but failed to realize as Thiem saved two set points, before converting his first set point to win a tight opener. "I try not to make many mistakes in the tiebreak.
I took a page out of Djokovic‘s book there," Thiem admitted. Thiem, who claimed his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, believes the best-of-five format should be kept at the Grand Slam level, while the best-of-three set format is "perfect" for the Masters events and Nitto ATP Finals.
"The way it is now, it's perfect. I think majors should stay best-of-five. It's tradition. It's the way it always was, and it makes it very special. I would love that it stays best-of-five," Thiem claimed. "Here and also at the Masters 1000 events I think it's great best-of-three, because for example today if we would have played best-of-five, probably the match would have lasted like four hours or something and a little bit tough to recover for the next match."