London | Thiem keeps his hopes alive
DOMINIC Thiem strung Kei Nishikori along to keep his slim hopes of reaching the last-four of the Nitto ATP Final flickering.
The Austrian overcame the Japanese 6-1 6-4 with the help of a change of strings.
I needed to change something because I felt not bad before this tournament. I was playing good. I was practicing well. Dominic Thiem
The sixth seed had lost his opening two group matches to Roger Federer and Kevin Anderson.
Something had to change for his final one against seventh seed Nishikori.
Thiem said: “I needed to change something because I felt not bad before this tournament. I was playing good. I was practicing well.
“Especially against Roger, I did some mistakes which I absolutely couldn’t believe. I felt that I did nothing wrong. I had to change something. I’d messed it up in my first two matches.
“My coach and I thought to change my strings. There were some balls I didn’t hit into the court two days ago which a player of my class could never miss actually. That’s why I felt I have to change a little bit.
“Then some things came into my mind because obviously it wasn’t the first time I tried something new. It’s very difficult to try something during the year.
“As I didn’t have so much to lose, as I could play more freely, I decided to try it out. Obviously it worked pretty well.”
Thiem was left believing he could go through to the semi-finals if Anderson were to defeat Federer in straight sets a few hours later.
He said immediately after his win: “I’m not hoping for it because it’s not very realistic. I think both of these two players really deserve to go up. That’s how it’s going to be at the end.”
Nishikori, who shocked Federer in his opening group match, said: “I was fresh. I was really tired after Paris, but I took some rest. I think I was fresh. I don’t know, I just didn’t feel the ball this week. Could be the court or the ball. I don’t know. But, yeah, just didn’t play well this week.”