Milos Raonic became the second man to qualify for the semis at the World Tour Finals when he beat Dominic Thiem 7-6(5), 6-3 in the last Group B round-robin match on Thursday night. Raonic blasted 13 aces and did not face a single break point before getting the job done in one hour and 30 minutes.
In what was basically a quarterfinal showdown with both players needing a win to advance while a loss meant a plane flight out of London, Thiem had few–if any–chances. The Austrian got to deuce on Raonic’s serve only once (at 3-3 in the opening set) and he survived a deuce game on his own serve at 5-6 to force a tiebreaker.
They took turns leading by mini-breaks in the decider. Thiem dropped the first two points only to reel off four in a row, including two in succession on Raonic’s serve at 2-1 and 2-2. Starting at 4-2, however, it went downhill for the world No. 9. Raonic got the mini-break back for 3-4, took care of his next two service points, and seized another critical return point at 5-4 with a perfect approach shot and overhead winner. He eventually wrapped up the set with his 11th ace at 6-5.
It was all but over when Raonic broke serve to begin the second. The world No. 4 seized a 0-40 advantage and capitalized on his second break point on a backhand error by Thiem. For good measure, Raonic broke again to 5-3 to wrap up the win in style.
“I did a lot of things quite well today,” the Canadian commented. “I stepped up when I had an opportunity in the tiebreak. I stepped up at the beginning of the second set and the end of it. There’s a lot definitely to be proud of, playing under that kind of pressure, ’cause I really wanted to get out of the group stages and I wanted to give myself a chance in the semifinals.”
“First of all, I hope that I will be back here in the future,” Thiem noted. “It’s one of the best tournaments. It was an amazing experience. I’m also happy that I won one match and that I still had the chance to go into the semifinals [in] the last match…. Of course I would prefer to win today and to play another match, but now [the offseason] is nice.”