There was a weird atmosphere in the O2 Arena for the opener, but neither the defending champion nor this year’s US Open winner struggled to motivate himself.
The opening set featured a number of takes to love, with neither man able to find a serve break, leaving a tie-break to separate the pair.
This first set decision maker was a missed opportunity for Tsitsipas, who gave up a 4-1 lead as Thiem fought to make it 5-5. The Austrian then sealed the tiebreaker when a Tsitsipas lob drifted long, moments after the Greek failed to put enough strength behind a smash that would have saved the set point.
The 22-year-old wasted again in the opener of the second set, failing to capitalize on a 0-30 lead over Thiem’s serve, but he put his opponent on the wrong foot two games later to seal a break from duty – the first. of the match – with a winning backhand pass shot down the line.
Both men impressed at different times throughout the rest of the set, but Thiem couldn’t find what would have been a crucial break, and Tsitsipas ultimately served the frame at 5-4.
Thiem responded perfectly, however, shattering the Greek with a dropshot winner for a 2-0 lead in the deciding set. A clinical take of the service followed and the former Grand Slam champion increased the deficit on his friend.
At 3-1, Thiem faced adversity as he struggled to hold on – missing out on many chances to convert a game point – but ultimately managed to move within two games of the win.
While Tsitsipas fought valiantly to stay in the game, he failed to close the gap and Thiem stepped up to serve the game at 5-3.
Although the Greek was able to save a match point, Thiem’s serve was too important and he wrapped up the win after two hours and 18 minutes on the pitch.
World No.2 Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev are next in the London 2020 squad as they face off on Sunday night.
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