ATP

Djokovic defeats Thiem to reach Madrid final

By Sports Desk May 11, 2019

Novak Djokovic reached his first final since the Australian Open as he overcame Dominic Thiem in two tie-breaks to win 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4) at the Madrid Open.

The 31-year-old had lost his previous two meetings to Thiem on clay but provided a timely reminder of his class on the surface ahead of the French Open, which begins later this month, by reaching a 48th ATP Masters 1000 final.

Djokovic went a break down in both sets but Thiem, who came from behind to beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, was pegged back on each occasion and then wilted under the pressure of the breakers.

Australian Open champion Djokovic will meet either Rafael Nadal, in what would be a repeat of January's final in Melbourne, or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the showpiece.

Djokovic was handed a walkover to the last four because quarter-final opponent Marin Cilic had food poisoning and that might have explained his rusty, error-laden start as Thiem claimed an early advantage.

The world number one hit back, though, and then staved off two break points at 4-4 before proving equal to a series of drop shots in the tie-break as Thiem's curious approach helped Djokovic clinch the opener.

Thiem failed to seize break-point opportunities in Djokovic's opening two service games of the second set but he finally made the breakthrough to go 4-2 up with a cross-court forehand winner at the end of another lengthy rally.

Yet Djokovic broke straight back when the Austrian somehow failed to clear the net with a backhand, giving his opponent the chance to serve for the match.

However, Djokovic uncharacteristically lost his nerve, double-faulting to force another breaker, where he eventually prevailed to reach his third final in the Spanish capital.

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