Dominic Thiem came back from a break down in the third and from 4-1 down in the final set breaker, but it wasn’t enough as Stefanos Tsitsipas would not be denied in a thrilling 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4) to capture the ATP Finals title in London.
Thiem had the early control of the match — last official ATP match this decade — grabbing an early break but Tsitsipas came back to force a breaker that went the Austrian’s way.
Tsitsipas commanded the second then went up a break in the third before Thiem rallied. But after clawing back from 4-1 in the breaker to 4-4, Thiem made three straight forehand errors and Tsitsipas is the 2019 ATP Finals champion.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” said Tsitsipas. “Holding this trophy right now feels amazing… This tournament has been unbelievable guys, you made it so, so emotional. I have never received so much support in a stage like that, ever. Honestly, I owe it all to you, most of it to you. Overall, the atmosphere this week was unbelievable.”
At 21, the Greek becomes the youngest to win the prestigious title since a 20-year-old Lleyton Hewitt in 2001. And he becomes the just the second player this century win the event in his debut after Grigor Dimitrov two years ago.
“I have no clue how I played so well in the second set,” said Tsitsipas. “I have no idea. I think my mind was at ease and I wasn’t really thinking of much, which led to such a great performance in the second set, breaking him twice,” said Tsitsipas. “I didn’t give him much options to play with in the second set. It was pretty much an excellent set for me.
“It was pretty frustrating for me to be playing with such nerves for the first time in such a big event. I was a break up, I couldn’t manage to hold it. Things were decided in the tiebreak and I am so relieved by this outstanding performance and fight that I gave out on the court.”
Like Tsitsipas, Thiem was also bidding for his biggest career title but just came up short in the end.
“He played great today. He played great throughout the whole tournament. He’s the champion and he deserves it 100 per cent,” Thiem said. “I also think that he’s great for tennis because he has a very attractive game style, one-handed backhand, comes in a lot. Very beautiful technique, as well. It’s great that he’s up on the top and he’s going to fight for the big titles in the future.
“I’m also very sure of the fact that I can challenge him in every single match we’re going to play. I really hope that we’re going to have a lot of big matches coming the two of us.”
Tsitsipas also becomes the first player to win the NextGen Finals then a year later the ATP Finals. He’s also the fourth different champion the event has seen in the last four years.
And with the Big 3 not getting any younger, the clock continues to tick.
“I think that for sure we can do it next year,” Thiem said of a new Grand Slam champion. “We are all playing great tennis. Sascha, Stefanos, me, some other guys. I’m pretty sure that we’re going to see a new and young Grand Slam champion next year.”
For the win, Tsitsipas earns $2,656,000 and will finish the year No. 6 after 2018 at No. 15. Thiem will end at a year-end best No. 4 and took home $1,302,000.
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