The lights went out unexpectedly at the O2 Arena, causing the start of the match between Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev at the ATP Finals to be delayed Thursday. The already-qualified Thiem was short of energy, too, when play eventually began.
The U.S. Open champion lost to Rublev 6-2, 7-5 in a contest that had little real consequence for either player, with Thiem assured of being the winner of the group after previous victories over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafael Nadal and his Russian opponent unable to qualify for the semifinals after back-to-back losses.
“It was difficult to keep that amazing intensity like I had in the first two matches,” Thiem said. “I wanted to win the match, 100%, but the first two matches were pretty tough, pretty long.
“So with the fact I was already qualified, in the back on my mind it was difficult to keep the intensity alive.”
Thiem said the loss to Rublev was “not painful at all.”
“I’m focused on Saturday now,” he said.
Tsitsipas and Nadal will meet later Thursday to decide who advances along with Thiem.
Rublev played like someone with nothing to lose, overwhelming Thiem with his serve and fierce groundstrokes to take the Austrian’s first two service games and clinch the first set in less than 26 minutes. He dropped only three points on serve and had no unforced errors in that set.
The second set was much closer, though Rublev was on top and serving at 4-3 when he lost eight straight points to get back on serve.
Rublev regrouped, broke Thiem after a long next game featuring some intense rallies, then served out the match for his first win in his debut at the season-ending tournament.
“It was not easy for Dommy,” said Rublev, who has won five events on the tour this year in a breakthrough season. “I think he (was) focused on the semis. I wish him good luck — he deserves to be where he is and he deserves to win the title.”
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