The finish line is within reach as the top four players in the world gather themselves for a final lunge to become the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals champion and not only bring this year’s convoluted season to an end, but also bring the curtain down on The O2’s involvement with the prestigious event over 12 years, when it moves to Turin for 2021.
(Last year's loss to Thiem) was really a thrilling match. Hopefully, we can have another great match but this time with a different outcome. Novak Djokovic
The final semi-final place was won by Novak Djokovic, the world number one, who, in the absence of Roger Federer, is attempting to equal the record six titles set by the Swiss maestro.
The Serbian top seed, beaten comprehensively by Daniil Medvedev, the world number four, in his second group match, recovered his game sufficiently to defeat Alexander Zverev, the 2018 champion from Greece, 6-3 7-6(4).
The final match to complete the round-robin stage was a dead rubber with Medvedev inflicting a third defeat on the debutant from Argentina, Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-3.
In what was a repeat of the 2018 title match, Djokovic avenged what was thought to have been a surprise result for Zverev.
On this occasion he saved the three break points he faced to step into the last four where he will face on Saturday, the US Open champion, Dominic Thiem, the world number three who won the other group.
The second semi-final will match the world number two, Rafa Nadal who, like his rival Djokovic, also suffered a defeat in his second group match when he lost to Medvedev. Both players are chasing their first ATP Final title, as is Thiem.
So the scene is set for a brilliant finale at the weekend where the title is expected to be fought over by the two players from Serbia and Spain, but as this season has shown, the next generation is very much poised to take over and should not be discounted!
Djokovic’s hopes of being recognised as the GOAT of tennis having this year already matched Pete Sampras’s record tally of six year-end number-one finishes, would receive a boost should he win at The O2 for a sixth time.
The Serb broke Zverev and raced into a 3-0 lead making the most of a poor start from Zverev.
The 33-year-old looked much more focused than he had been during his loss to Medvedev, serving himself out of trouble when he found himself trailing 15-40 in the seventh game.
That proved to be the last chance for Zverev in the set and the 17-time Grand Slam champion pocketed it with a backhand winner down the line.
A double fault from Djokovic handed Zverev a break point in the fourth game of the second set but the German failed to capitalise and in the following game, the 23-year-old found himself two break points down before going on to hold his serve.
The set went to a tie-break where Zverev earned an early mini-break but Djokovic levelled and the pressure was back on the German who couldn’t withstand it to concede victory.
Speaking after the win Djokovic said he had been able to find the right shots at the right moment, unlike his previous match against the Russian.
But his thoughts were now concentrated on his next match with Thiem which he knew would be a tough one.
“Obviously, earlier in his career he played his best on clay but of course being one of the hardest workers on the tour, the most dedicated players, Dominic found his ‘A’ game on all other surfaces,” Djokovic said.
“His first Slam came on hard courts earlier this year in New York. I played him last year here – I lost 7-6 in the third set. It was really a thrilling match. Hopefully, we can have another great match but this time with a different outcome.”