LONDON (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal’s hopes of winning the year-ending ATP Finals for the first time live on after the Spaniard beat defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 4-6 6-2 on Thursday.
The last round-robin match in the London Group had become a straight knockout with both men having lost to Dominic Thiem and beaten Andrey Rublev earlier in the week.
But it was Spaniard Nadal who always appeared the more likely winner despite a lapse which allowed Tsitsipas to extend the contest into a decider at a near-deserted O2 Arena.
After a flurry of service breaks at the start of the third set, the 34-year-old Nadal showed all his experience to pull away and reach the semifinals for the first time in five years.
As group runner-up behind Austrian Thiem, he will face Daniil Medvedev for a place in the final with the Russian already assured of top spot in the Tokyo Group.
World number one Novak Djokovic plays Alexander Zverev on Friday with the winner to play Thiem in the other semi-final.
Nadal was untouchable on his serve in the first set, losing only five points, and the pressure told on Tsitsipas who was unable to unleash his attacking game.