Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates winning his group stage match against Japan's Kei Nishikori at the The O2, London, Britain - November 15, 2018. Picture: ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS/ANDREW COULDRIDGE
Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates winning his group stage match against Japan's Kei Nishikori at the The O2, London, Britain - November 15, 2018. Picture: ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS/ANDREW COULDRIDGE

London — 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-sets 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 SA debutant Anderson, who is guaranteed a semifinal spot, to beat six-times 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 No1 Novak Djokovic by beating Anderson.

The Swiss is looking to reach the semifinals for the 15th time in 16 appearances.

After describing his error-strewn loss to Federer as "unacceptable", Thiem produced a performance much more in keeping with a player who reached the 2018 French Open final and who has now won 54 matches during the season.

"I didn’t come into the match with too much pressure," said Thiem in his on-court interview. "I just wanted to show to myself and all the spectators the real Dominic Thiem."

Reuters