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Ros Satar at the Nitto ATP Finals in London
- Stefanos Tsitsipas  def. Dominic Thiem  6-7(6) 6-2, 7-6(4)
- Thiem: ‘It’s not the end of the world’
- Tsitsipas: ‘I believe I’m really close on being crowned a Grand Slam champion’
LONDON, UK – Stefanos Tsitsipas edged Dominic Thiem in a three set thriller to claim the biggest title of his career, at the Nitto ATP Finals.
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Stefanos Tsitsipas  def. Dominic Thiem  6-7(6) 6-2, 7-6(4)
Last year’s NextGen ATP Champion Stefanos Tsitsipas graduated into the major leagues, as he edged Dominic Thiem in three sets to claim the Nitto ATP Finals, with twists and turns, befitting the season-ending finale.
Thiem, who started so ferociously at the start of the tournament had struggled with a cold that had laid him low in the final round robin match, while Tsitsipas maintained the maturity and composure that saw him claim some notable scalps as they both bid for a maiden title at the Nitto ATP.
In the first set, break point chances came and went, but there was little to separate them in the first set with the first chance going to Tsitsipas and the pair of them having a couple of break points each before arriving at a first set tie-break.
Thiem jumped out to an early lead thanks to a mini-break at the start, before Tsitsipas wrestled it back for 5-5. Another mini-break was just enough for Thiem to close out the first set.
Tsitsipas kept his composure, much as he has throughout the tournament, seizing the momentum to jump out to a 4-0 lead before Thiem found the scoreboard but by then in reality the set was gone, taking us into a decider.
Despite taking a tumble, Tsitsipas recovered early in the decider to take the lead with a break before the first changeover, having been pushing since the first game. Thiem dug deep to break back as for the first time we saw a lapse in Tsitsipas’ concentration.
Back on serve, suddenly Thiem looked a little more solid, as the pair headed to a tie-break to decide the title. Thiem was the first to fault, losing his serve twice, and putting Tsitsipas in the driving seat with a 4-1 lead. The Austrian kept his presence of mind to dish out a couple of mini-breaks of his own, getting right back in it, but relinquishing another mini-break left Tsitsipas to serve out his two serves for the title.
This is the fourth straight year that a first-time champion has been crowned, with Tsitsipas becoming the youngest champion (at 21 years, 3 months) since a 20-year-old Hewitt won in 2011. Tsitsipas lifted the NextGen ATP title in 2018, before graduating to the ATP Finals title.
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Thiem: ‘It’s not the end of the world’
Thiem has been on the wrong end of career defining matches already – with two Roland Garros finals, but there he was not expected to beat Rafael Nadal. After his riveting win over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, he was largely expected to come through this – albeit struggling with a cold since Tuesday and then coming out to beat Djokovic.
He said: “It’s not the end of the world, because I always think back on some matches in the past, like also in the last weeks, and I won some really close matches like this today to even get myself to the situation to play these Finals.
“It’s always going to be like that in tennis. That’s why it’s probably mentally the most brutal sport existing, because you can play such a great match and end up losing in the championship match.
“From that point of view, it’s a very disappointing loss, very hard to digest. But on the same hand, I had some amazing wins also, even this week, that they get me in this situation even to play the finals. So it’s fine.”
Tsitsipas: ‘I believe I’m really close on being crowned a Grand Slam champion’
Time will tell whether Tsitsipas will shake the World Tour Finals curse. Andy Murray struggled with injury after winning in 2016, Grigor Dimitrov’s form has had more ups and downs that a rollercoaster and Alexander Zverev had an equally frustrating year of highs and lows after winning last year.
But Tsitsipas, as ever, looked for a deeper meaning to it all.
“I was excited to be part of the Nitto Finals experience. For me, it was already a big thing. Now that I’m a champion, I don’t know how to explain it. I honestly don’t feel anything, because it’s too many emotions to feel something (smiling). So it’s “horrific”, in a way, to be holding this trophy.
“I remember myself watching this event on TV and thinking, oh, these guys have done an insane year to be playing here. And now I’m in the position to be champion, so it feels awesome.”
Have we seen a changing of the guard? It seems inconceivable that some of the names we saw this week will not be lifting up a Slam title in the very near future – and why not add Tsitsipas to that list?
He continued: “I feel like my game is getting better over time, and I believe I’m really close on being crowned a Grand Slam champion. I know these are strong words that I say, but I do feel like I belong to be there. I’m competing against one of the best players in the world, and the amount of effort and the amount of work I put every day deserves to have an outcome like this.”
The Nitto ATP Finals tenure at the O2 in London will come to an end in 2020.
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