World No2 Novak Djokovic boosted his hopes of reclaiming top spot in the rankings from Andy Murray and booked his place in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 last night.
Djokovic, dethroned by Murray after more than two years at the apex of the men’s game earlier this month, battled his way to a 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5) win over Canada’s Milos Raonic.
It means that the Serb, who has not won a title since July, is definitely through to the last four and will pip Murray to the coveted year-end No1 ranking if he wins the season finale in London this week for a fifth successive year.
Raonic missed two break points early in the first set and, after being made to pay for that slip, recovered from two breaks in the second set only to miss a chance to forced a decider.
Murray faces Japan’s Kei Nishikori on Wednesday afternoon in his second round-robin stage match. The Briton will be sure of a semi-final place if he wins.
Thiem defeats Monfils
Earlier, Austrian rising star Dominic Thiem enhanced his prospects of reaching the last four on his debut at the event by beating an out-of-sorts world No6 Gael Monfils.
Thiem, 23, overcame the Frenchman 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 to become the youngest player to win an ATP Tour Finals match since Djokovic seven years ago.
He is now assured of overtaking 14-time grand slam winner and world No8 Rafael Nadal when the rankings are updated next week.
Monfils appeared to be impeded by injury for much of the match, aside from a blistering spell in the second set, and handed Thiem victory in the 10th game of the decider by serving three double faults.
Jamie Murray, meanwhile, boosted his chances of joining brother Andy at the top of the rankings as he and Bruno Soares beat American pair Bob and Mike Bryan in the doubles at the O2.