Combining belief and ability
Thiem certainly made Djokovic uncomfortable, stepping in and clattering the ball without any hesitation. It was a far cry from the blustery conditions which hampered their five-set thriller at Roland-Garros in June.
“I mean, I don't think I have experienced too many matches like this where my opponent just goes for every single shot,” admitted Djokovic, who must win the ATP Finals to have any chance of regaining the No.1 ranking off Rafael Nadal.
“He was unbelievable, and in some stages, it was just incredible that he was just literally smacking the ball as hard as he can and he was going in. He went for broke.”
Combining the belief installed by Massu and his ability to crunch flat, fizzing shots consistently towards the baseline, Thiem is threatening to brush aside the big three to toast the end of season with the ultimate silverware.
Time for Thiem to take his chance
“I'm really confident, of course. It was I think for the first time that I beat two of the Big three back to back, which gives me a lot of confidence. “Also, I'm super happy and proud that I reached the semi-finals for the first time. It was a big goal, but of course it's not enough now. I'll try to play a good match against Matteo on Thursday. I want to keep up the great level I had in the first two matches also for the semi-finals.”
With the big three on the brink in east London, the defending champion Zverev off-kilter, Thiem must persist with the full-throttle tennis.
Not only is it compelling viewing, it might be too much force for the title rivals. It’s time for Thiem to take his chance.