After a tough season, Daniil Medvedev caught fire this month and finished the year in style winning the biggest title of his career Sunday taking the ATP Finals trophy over Dominic Thiem from a set down 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
”What a match. One of my best victories, two hours, 42 minutes, three sets against an amazing player,” Medvedev said following the longest 3-set final in tournament history. “Dominic, congratulations already for what you achieved in your career. Your name is already in the history of tennis books. It is amazing. You won a Grand Slam this year. You are playing unbelievable. I hope we are going to have many more matches to come on the big occasions like this.”
Medvedev had lost to Thiem in the US Open semifinals dropping the last two sets in tiebreakers. Today, after going down a quick 2-0 in the second breaker, he won seven straight points to force a decider.
In the third, following eight missed break chances, Medvedev finally got a nose ahead breaking Thiem in a 4-deuce game for a 3-2 lead. The 6-foot-6 Russian then rode his big serve — dropping just two points on first serve in the third — across the finish line to become the first player to go 0-3 in the round robin at the ATP Finals then comeback and go undefeated, 5-0.
“I remember some of the [break points] and he was playing unbelievable,” said Medvedev. “I remember he was crushing the ball as if there was no tomorrow. So, yeah, lucky and happy to finally make it in the third set actually in good style, going to the net, winning the point with a winner.”
Medvedev finished with 37 winners, 30 unforced, 12 aces and won 28 of 37 from the net. Thiem was 29-29 winners-to-errors but won just 44% of second serves and had one less winner of the forehand (15) than Medvedev.
Early in the match, Thiem was simply the better player, showing off his defensive skills and forcing Medvedev into errors and bad judgment.
The Austrian broke for 3-2 and other than saving two break points in his opening service game, was mostly untroubled.
Thiem, who had gone 2 hours, 54 minutes a day earlier, maintained the momentum in the second . Thiem missed a break chance at 2-all but in the 3-all game, the US Open champion bricked two easy sitter forehands, either of which would have given him a break.
Those misses allowed Medvedev to hang around and eventually pull off that stunning run in the breaker.
“I think it was the toughest victory in my life because Dominic is a really tough player to play. I think today he was at his best,” Medvedev said. “Maybe it’s not the case, but that’s what I felt during the match. He was really close to winning it second set. I managed to stay there.”
Medvedev becomes the first Russian to win the ATP Finals since Nikolay Dayvdenko won the first Finals in London in 2009. And he’s also the first player to ever defeat the No. 1 (Djokovic), No. 2 (Nadal) and No. 3 (Thiem) players in the world at the ATP Finals, and first to do it at any event since David Nalbandian at 2007 Madrid.
”It is amazing,” Medvedev said of his run. “In the group I beat Novak, then Rafa in the semifinals and Dominic in the final, best players in the world,” said Medvedev.
“Shows what I’m capable of when I’m playing good, when I’m feeling good mentally, physically. I know what I’m capable of. I just need to produce it more and more and hopefully more matches like this.”
Thiem falls short for a second year after winning the first set in the title match. The loss still shows the 27-year-old will be a force on 2021, on any surface.
”Of course, I am disappointed, but at the same time I am also proud of the performance of all the week. Daniil really deserved it,” Thiem said.
“Honestly, I would do the same again, play a lot of slice,” he added. “The way he broke me in the third set was an unreal game. He put great returns in. I had few chances to convert that game. He played some great rallies there.
“Probably if you look at the whole tournament, he was the best player,” he said. “He didn’t lose a set in the group stage. Beat No. 2 and No. 3 players in the world in the semis and in the final, so he definitely deserved that title.”
With the start of the 2021 season uncertain as the Australian Open and their government try to agree on a schedule and protocols, Medvedev will go into the new year on a 10-match win streak.
”When you have this sort of confidence, you just need to know how to keep it,” Medvedev said. “And I think I do know how to do it, especially looking back at last year also where I had six finals in a row. So now the question is how to find it faster sometimes.
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