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Djokovic: Fast Start Key To Topping Thiem

Novak Djokovic aims for a fast start to spark a historic finish.

The top-seeded Serbian burst out of the blocks quickly today winning 12 of the first 14 points igniting a 6-3, 7-6(4) win over 2018 champion Alexander Zverev to secure a spot in the ATP Finals semifinals.

More: Djokovic Will Face Thiem in ATP Finals Semifinals

Djokovic, who owns a sparkling 35-0 record when winning the first set in 2020, is aiming to accelerate when he squares off against US Open champion Dominic Thiem for a spot in the ATP Finals championship match.

A year ago, Thiem edged Djokovic 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(5) en route to the title match in London's O2 Arena where he fell to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

World No. 1 Djokovic gained a measure of revenge out-dueling Thiem in five sets to capture his eighth Australian Open crown in February. Djokovic believes a fast start is key to what could be another long encounter.

"Every time we got to play I think in the last three, four matches, it was some marathon, thrilling encounters," Djokovic said of Thiem. "Five-setter in the finals of Australian Open earlier this year. It's semifinals, so I'm expecting a tough battle, no question about it.

"He's in a very good form. He loves to play in this surface. Obviously he played finals last year. He beat Roger and myself last year in the O2 Arena."

Tennis Express

Continuing his quest for a record-tying sixth season-ending championship, Djokovic carries a 7-4 career record against Thiem onto court. In six of Djokovic's seven victories he's won the opening set.

"He's a Grand Slam champion. Obviously that's a huge boost for him," Djokovic said. "Got that kind of pressure and expectation off his back. So I'm sure that allows him to kind of also swing freely on the court and play even better than he did before.

"You know, if I manage to play as well as I did today and show up with a high quality of tennis, I think I have a good chance to win. I mean, I'm just hoping I can start off the match as well as I did today."

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve