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Thiem beats Nishikori at ATP Finals

Nitto ATP Finals - Day Five

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 15: Dominic Thiem of Austria returns the ball during his round robin match against Kei Nishikori of Japan during Day Five of the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 Arena on November 15, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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LONDON -- Dominic Thiem kept alive his chances of reaching the last four at the ATP Finals - and helped out Roger Federer - with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori on Thursday.

Thiem, who lost both his previous matches at the season-ending tournament, had to win in straight sets to have any hope of advancing at the O2 Arena.

Six-time champion Federer needs to win one set in the late match against Kevin Anderson to advance alongside his South African opponent. If Anderson wins in straight sets, Federer needs five games in total if both sets go to six, or six games in total if one or more sets go to seven.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Thiem said, referring to his chances of reaching the semis.

Having been pummeled 6-0, 6-1 by Anderson on Tuesday, Nishikori made a disappointing start by allowing Thiem to break at the first attempt.

Two-time semifinalist Nishikori then had several chances to get back on serve at 1-3, but the Japanese player was unable to take his four break points, before Thiem broke again to seal the opening set.

The Austrian continued to apply pressure in the second set, and after failing to take an opportunity at 2-2, forced a backhand error from Nishikori to grab a 4-3 lead before going on to secure victory.

“I was the same last match,” Nishikori said. “There were too many unforced errors for me.”