LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has won the biggest title of his career after staging a dramatic comeback against Dominic Thiem to win the ATP Finals title on Sunday.
The 21-year-old, who was making his debut in the event this year, weathered the storm against his at times tentative rival to prevail 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4), in what was a marathon encounter. Becoming the eighth youngest champion of all time and the youngest since Lleyton Hewitt back in 2001. In total, he hit 34 winners to 16 unforced errors as he paid tribute to the crowd after.
“It’s unbelievable having such an army behind me. They give me so much energy and belief that I can achieve the things I want to achieve.” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“They motivate me and give me so much energy in general. I just love that.”
For only the eighth time since the birth of the tournament in 1970, both players were making their debut in the title match of the end-of-season extravaganza. Tsitsipas, who is the first Greek to ever play the event, scored triumphs over Alexander Zverev and Roger Federer, as well as Daniil Medvedev earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Thiem secured his place with the help of two wins over members of the big three (Novak Djokovic and Federer), as well as knocking Zverev out of the tournament.
Heading into the London showdown, both players have been solid behind their serve. In their four previous matches, Thiem has only been broken six times and Tsitsipas three. Continuing that trend, the duo matched each other game-by-game throughout the opener. Thiem had three chances to break Tsitsipas in two different service games, but he wasn’t able to due to some impressive play from the Greek. Including a risky decision to hit a second serve and volley to save one of those breaks. Tsitsipas also had two separate chances to break during the opening set.
With little to distinguish between them, it would be one shot that proved critical to the outcome of the tiebreak. Tied at 6-6, a Tsitsipas backhand shank handed his rival the chance to serve for the lead. Something he achieved with the help of a 129 mph serve down the line which drew an error from across the court.
After narrowingly losing out on the chance to lead, Tsitsipas hit back emphatically against the increasingly wilting Austrian. Thiem has been struggling with flu symptoms throughout the week. An elevation in his intensity saw him destroy the momentum generated by the world No.5. Within just 14 minutes, he went from losing the first set to opening up a 4-0 stronghold in the second. It wasn’t long before the lightning-fast comeback was sealed by Tsitsipas, who committed only one unforced error in eight games played.
“I have no clue how I managed to play so well in the second set. I think my mind was at ease and I wasn’t thinking about much.” Tsitsipas commented on his comeback. “This lead to a great performance in the second set, breaking him twice. I didn’t give him many options and I think it was an excellent set.”
A brief half to proceedings occurred when Thiem exit the court for a comfort break. However, when he returned Tsitsipas continued to attack his opponent on the court. Three games into the decider a Thiem backhand crashing into the net rewarded him another break and the lead for the first time. Even a stumble where it looked like he hurt his knee failed to derail the Next Gen star.
However, there would be another twist to the match. A Thiem revival saw him hit back to draw level at 3-3. Prompting loud cheers from the crowd in the 18,500 capacity arena. For only the fourth time in history, the winner of the ATP Finals would be decided by a final tiebreaker. Both players had their chances, but it would be Tsitsipas who would edge his way to victory. Causing heartbreak for Thiem after their gut-busting encounter that lasted just over two-and-a-half hours.
“It was a bit frustrating for me to be playing with nerves in such a big event. I was a break-up, couldn’t manage to hold it. Things were decided in the tiebreak and I’m so relieved by this outstanding performance and fight that I gave out on the court.” The new champion concluded.
There is some consolation for Thiem. Following his run this week, he will rise to fourth in the ATP rankings. The highest year-end position of his career to date.
“It was an unbelievable match. Bravo Stefanos. I think we are playing the most mentally brutal sport existing.” Said Thiem
“It was so close and we were fighting 100% in the end. But that how it is in tennis.’
“You really deserve it (the title). You’re an amazing player and I really hope we are going to have some great finals in the future as well.”
It would be another Stefan in the shape of Stefan Edberg who would present the rising star his trophy. Capping off what has been a breakthrough 12 months since he won the Next Gen Finals in Milan.
Tsitsipas exits the tournament with total prize money earnings of $2,256,000 for his week in London, as well as 1300 ranking points.
Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open
Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.
He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.
Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.
Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.
“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.
Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka
Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.
Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.
In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.
Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.
Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.
“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.
Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
Stan Wawrinka edges Danil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka reached the quarter final at the Australian Open for the fifth time in his career with a 6-2 2-6 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over fourth seed and 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev after 3 hours and 25 minutes. Wawrinka qualified for the last eight for the first time since 2017.
Wawrinka earned his first break in the fourth game, when Medvedev sent his backhand long. Wawrinka did not convert two more break points in the sixth game before breaking for the second time at love to close out the opening set 6-2 after 32 minutes. Wawrinka won 85% of his first serve points and hit 16 winners to 8 unforced errors in the opening set.
Medvedev broke in the third game of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead, when Wawrinka netted his forehand. The Russian player clinched the second set with three service winners at 5-2 to level the score.
Medvedev broke serve in the seventh game of the third set after a backhand error from Wawrinka and closed out the set with a service winner in the 10th game.
Wawrinka wasted a break point in the fourth game of the fourth set. Both players traded service holds en route to the tie-break. Wawrinka earned an immediate mini-break to open up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. The former Australian Open champion hit a half-volley winner to cruise to a 5-2 lead and converted his first set point, when Medvedev netted a backhand in the ninth point.
Wawrinka broke Medvedev at 15 in the first game of the fifth set and saved three break points at 2-1. Wawrinka went up a double break in the seventh game and forced an error from Medvedev to wrap up the match, as he was serving for the win in the eighth game.
Wawrinka set up a quarter final against Alexander Zverev, who beat Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4. Zverev beat Wawrinka twice in their two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
“That was an amazing match and an amazing atmosphere. It was really tough to play against Danil. It was really tough to play against Danil. I had to raise my level in the fourth and fifth sets. The level was super high and the atmosphere is something special here in Australia. I am finding solutions. I was losing a bit of confidence in the second and third sets, and was fighting against myself to play my game. I had to fight, stay positive and I am happy with the result”,said Wawrinka.
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