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Djokovic gets winning start at ATP Finals

AAP logoAAP 13/11/2016

Novak Djokovic survived the loss of a torrid first set, bouncing back strongly to dispatch World Tour Finals rookie Dominic Thiem 6-7 (12-10) 6-0 6-2 as the eight-man ATP Finals began on Sunday.

The Serb who dropped to world No.2 a week ago behind Andy Murray, thrilled a crowd up nearly 18,000 fans with his fightback win.

"Many players feel like rockstars here at the O2 arena," five-time winner Djokovic said. "The crowd here is really respectful of the tennis and gives great support."

Austrian Thiem showed his promise after breaking into the top 10 this season as he gave Djokovic a scare in a 72-minute first set, which the 24-year-old won on his seventh set point, a pile-driving winner past Djokovic.

But the Serb, who reigned 122 weeks at the top of the rankings, put a decade of elite tennis to best use as he stormed back to take the second set in 20 minutes.

Djokovic won nine of 10 games to reach a 2-1 lead with a break of Thiem, sewing up the win on his first match point after two hours as he swept the last two sets .

The winner came through with 22 winners, and 25 unforced errors. His Austrian opponent still has a chance to reach the semi-finals in the round-robin format.

"Dominic started well," said Djokovic, champion at the last four editions. "He put on a great effort, the first set was played on a very high level from the first point.

"He deserved to win the tiebreaker, he was the better player in tough moments. I managed to regroup and play well. Breaking to start the second set was crucial

"After that I felt more comfortable and made him play the extra shot."

Thiem now stands 0-4 against Djokovic. who can take back the No.1 ranking from Murray if he can win in London.

Murray makes his start on Monday against Marin Cilic.

Thiem was pleased with his opening effort.

"It was a good match with a great first set, After that I lost some energy, which is required to play Novak," he said.

"It was unbelievable to play on this great stage, I'm tired and a little empty, but I cannot wait to play the second match."

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