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By Chris Oddo | Wednesday November 15, 2017

Dominic Thiem hopes to save the best for last at London, and the 24-year-old Austrian ensured himself a chance of doing just that by defeating Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 at the Nitto ATP Finals on Wednesday evening.

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The encounter went the way of the pair’s four previous ATP-level meetings, but tonight’s battle was anything but predictable. Carreno Busta, ranked tenth in the world and subbing for the recently departed Rafael Nadal on this day, proved to be a worthy opponent for Thiem and he soldiered valiantly, making Thiem work extremely hard, particularly in sets two and three.

Set one was won on the strength of Thiem’s two breaks and the Austrian did not face a break point. But the ever opportunistic Carreno Busta converted both of his break points and saved all three he faced to take the middle set going away.

Tonight’s meeting marked the third time that Thiem and Carreno Busta have gone the distance.

“It was a tough open match until the end,” Thiem said, adding: “I've beaten him four times on the tour. I lost to him, as well, on the challengers. It was not really a clear head-to-head. It never really matters, the head-to-head. I mean, it was always tough open matches against him, same like today. I'm mostly pleased with my game or partly pleased with my game. At the end I'm of course happy that I won it.”

Carreno Busta reined in his errors in the second, and forced Thiem to overhit a bit with his sound defense and relentless ball tracking.

Thiem knuckled down and snagged an early break in the third but Carreno Busta soon hit back to level at three-all then saved four break points in the next game to nudge in front at 4-3.

For a moment it looked like the upset was within reach.

But Thiem persisted, breaking for 5-4 and then closing out the match in the next game to set up a winner-take-all battle with David Goffin on Friday for the second semifinal slot in Group Pete Sampras.

Thiem is now 5-0 against Carreno Busta and 49-26 on the season.

The World No.4 used his serve to great effect on the fast indoor surface at the O2 Arena, winning 37 of 41 first-serve points on the evening. He finished with 27 winners, 13 of which came on the serve, to 22 for Carreno Busta.

The Spaniard actually hit more forehand winners than Thiem, but his 39 unforced errors were what eventually did him in. With Thiem relentlessly pressing him with firm weight of shot, it became harder and harder for Carreno to matchup at the conclusion of this thrilling two hour and six-minute affair.


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