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Thiem finds Kei to victory 

LONDON, November 15

Dominic Thiem claimed his first win of the week at the ATP Finals as he beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-1 6-4 to stay mathematically alive at the O2 Arena on Thursday.

The Austrian, beaten by Kevin Anderson and Roger Federer in his opening two round-robin matches, knew only a straight-set victory would suffice and he delivered with a positive display.

He dominated throughout with Nishikori, who can no longer reach the semis, guilty of 41 unforced errors.

Thiem needs South African debutant Anderson, who is guaranteed a semifinal spot, to beat six-time champion Roger Federer for the loss of less than six games to make the semis. Federer, who bounced back from his surprise loss against Nishikori to beat Thiem in his second match, can still top the group and avoid a potential semifinal with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic by beating Anderson.

The Swiss is looking to reach the semifinals for the 15th time in 16 appearances at the ATP’s prestigious year-ender. 

After describing his error-strewn loss to Federer as ‘unacceptable’, Thiem produced a performance much more in keeping with a player who reached the French Open final this year and who has now won 54 matches during the season.

Cilic beats Isner, sends Djokovic through

Djokovic has 834 Tour match wins in his storied career but the latest, a 6-4 6-1 rout of young German Alexander Zverev on Wednesday, will not be one for his scrapbook.

There were few moments to test the 02 Arena’s crowd decibel-level monitor — a new gimmick this year — but despite not feeling well, Djokovic had too much guile for Zverev. His ability to play the percentages and churn out wins in third gear has been a key component in his rise to one of the all-time greats and that was all he needed on Wednesday.

It was the 31-year-old Serb’s second comfortable win in the Gustavo Kuerten group and combined with Marin Cilic’s 6-7(2) 6-3 6-4 defeat of American John Isner later in the day, he sealed his place in the semifinals at the year-ender for the eighth time.

Djokovic appeared to be suffering with a cold and grabbed a tissue from his pocket on occasions, but after some fierce resistance in the opening set he ran away with the match.

“A win is a win,” the world No. 1, bidding for a record-equalling sixth title at the ATP’s blue-riband event, said. “Somehow I managed to gather the strength when I needed it. It wasn’t a great quality tennis match to be honest.” 

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