Beijing | Thiem and Tsitsipas make final
Top seed Dominic Thiem will face a resurgent third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for the China Open title in Beijing after coming from a set down to beat the fourth seed Karen Khachanov and qualify for the ATP Finals in London.
I did things right when I had to do them… I didn't go for crazy shots or crazy targets. I just mixed the game. Dominic Thiem
This is the fourth consecutive year that he has qualified for the season-ending event since qualifying for the first time in 2016. Thiem also equalled compatriot Thomas Muster’s feat of making it to the year-end tournament on four occasions.
Muster’s four qualifications came in 1990, and then for three straight years from 1995 to 1997.
“For me personally, it was one big goal when I started into the season, I’m very, very happy that I made it again,” said Thiem.
“But it’s not because of today’s win, it’s because of all the season.”
“It’s a big honour for me to be again a part of that big event in London. It also shows that I played another very good and consistent season,” he added.
“Of course, it’s a lot of pressure also gone.”
Thiem joined Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev in qualifying for the season-ending tournament O2 event with a 2-6 7-6(5) 7-5 to reach the title round in two-hours and 45-minutes, and the prospect of claiming his 15th title.
The Austrian, ranked fifth in the world, overcame an early barrage from the Russian to keep himself in contention for his fourth title of the season
Thiem had been broken just once in the tournament before the semi-final stage but lost the first set after failing to hold on three occasions.
But the 26-year-old showed his fighting spirit and turned it around coming from 5-3 down in the second set to force a decider and recovering from an early break in the third to progress.
The second seed Alexander Zverev lost his cool as he was consigned to a 7-6(6) 6-4 defeat to Tsitsipas in the second semi-final highlighting two of the fast progressing youngsters.
The German smashed his racket after failing to serve out the opening set when leading 5-3 lead and then wasted three set points in the tie-break, with Tsitsipas winning five points in a row to go a set up.
The composed Greek powered into a 5-1 lead with two breaks in the second set and although Zverev won three games on the spin and saving five match points, he was unable to deny Tsitsipas a straight-sets victory and his place in the final one-hour and 51-minutes for his fifth final of the season.
“I didn’t play phenomenal, but I played smart. Smart is more important than phenomenal,” said Tsitsipas who is close to qualifying for the O2 himself.
“I did things right when I had to do them… I didn’t go for crazy shots or crazy targets. I just mixed the game. I was hanging in there and trying to suffer, trying to give it my all on the court, to play another five hours. That was the mindset I was on.”
Looking ahead to the final, the 21-year-old told the ATP: “Thiem will be playing with a lot of intensity. I’ve played him many times. I know his game consists of a lot of intensity, the power and the speed he puts in every single shot.
“He’s in a good form. He’s playing well. I just have to be serving well, playing well from behind, coming in. It’s important for me to stay focused in the crucial moments, in the moments where things are going to be decided in a few points.”