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WTF: Djokovic books semi-final berth, Thiem stuns Monfils

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DjokovicNovak Djokovic completed a hard fought 7-6(6), 7-6(5) victory over Milos Raonic to become the first player to book a semifinal spot at the World Tour Finals. The World No.2 needed two tiebreaks and every bit of his clutch play to edge Raonic. The big Canadian had Djokovic on the ropes on multiple occasions but just failed to close out opportunities in both sets.

Earlier in the matinee match, Dominic Thiem upset Gael Monfils in the battle of the tournament debutants to secure his first win at the World Tour Finals. Thiem won a see-saw battle 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 in an hour and a half to keep alive his hopes of qualifying for the semifinals.

For Monfils this was another tough loss and it only gets tougher when he has to play Djokovic in his last round robin game on Thursday while Thiem will face Raonic for the remaining semi spot in Group Ivan Lendl.

Thiem was quietly pleased with his performance in the tournament saying, “I think it was a decent first match. Also today I had a good start. I was trying to stay tough in the third set. I'm very happy with the win”. Monfils though was still worried about his fitness and preparation but was pleased with the effort, “I think today was tough one. Dominic was better than me. I think I didn't play a great match, but I gave my best, as usual, fighting with everything I had”.

The late evening contest between Raonic and Djokovic was expected to be close and exceeded expectations in a blockbuster of a contest. Right from the outset Raonic troubled Djokovic generating break points in the first two Djokovic service games showcasing a much improved return and a much greater degree of comfort in going toe to toe with the Serb. Djokovic though once again showed his resolve by hanging on in the tough moments and slowly but surely working himself into the match. Milos’ serve is a weapon and a half and it worked like a dream in the first set as he dropped hardly 8 points in his service games before the tie breaker. In the tie-break it was Milos who got his nose in front but Djokovic once again came up with the goods when behind. A measured lob was the pick of Djokovic’s strokes and the pressure told as Raonic double faulted to lose the first breaker 8-6.

Dropping that first set appeared to have demoralised Raonic as he fell a break behind early to go down 0-2. But any drop in level was temporary as he regrouped to 2-2 in what would turn out to be a set of fluctuating fortunes. The Serb then forged ahead with another break only for Raonic to mount another comeback which almost resulted in him stealing the set at 5-6, 30/40. In the story of the match, Raonic missed at the crucial moment and the set went into the second tie-break. Once again Djokovic reserved his best for the clutch with a remarkable backhand half volley being the highlight as he took the tie-break 7-5 and with it the match in two hard fought sets.

Final Scores:

D.Thiem d G.Monfils 6-3, 1-6, 6-4

N.Djokovic d M.Raonic 7-6(6), 7-6(5)