Tsitsipas pips Thiem in epic ATP Finals decider

Published by Tennismash

Stefanos Tsitsipas hoists the trophy after winning the ATP Finals in London. (Getty Images)
Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Dominic Thiem in a high-quality ATP Finals decider, requiring a third-set tiebreak, to win the biggest title of his career.

Stefanos Tsitsipas held his nerve to overcome Dominic Thiem in a thrilling title match at the ATP Finals in London on Sunday night.

The Greek youngster saw two significant leads in the third set evaporate but nonetheless secured a 6-7(6) 6-2 7-6(4) victory in two hours and 35 minutes.

Tsitsipas had not beat Thiem since August last year and had fallen in four of the pair’s six career meetings.

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But he turned the tables in magnificent style to win the biggest title of his burgeoning career, becoming the youngest player to win the season-ending title since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001 and just the second debutant to win in 21 years.

“It was a bit frustrating for me to be playing with such nerves, first time for me playing such a big event,” he said in a courtside interview immediately following his win.

“I was a break up, couldn’t manage to to hold it, things were decided in a tiebreak.

“I’m so relieved by this outstanding performance and fight that I gave out on the court.”

After dropping a tight first set, Tsitsipas went on a tear, winning nine of the next 12 games to establish a 3-1 lead in the third set.

“I think my mind was kind of at ease and I wasn’t really thinking much in which led to such a great performance in the second set, breaking him twice,” Tsitsipas said.

“I think I didn’t give him much options to play with in the second set — it was pretty much an excellent set for me.”

Yet Thiem, a winner of five ATP titles in 2019, came storming back, firing a backhand to force a volley error from Tsitsipas on his way to break back for 3-3, and holding to love to edge ahead 4-3.

The athletic, intense, powerful quality of tennis from both men on the quick indoor hard court was at times breathtaking, and somewhat appropriately, the set progressed to a tiebreak.

Here, Tsitsipas went ahead 4-1 only for Thiem — who went for broke and was rewarded — to level scores at 4-4.

Tsitsipas did not panic, and errors crept into Thiem’s game. He shanked a forehand to give a mini-break to Tsitsipas before another forehand error saw Tsitsipas earn two championship points.

In the tightest of matches where both men finished with near-identical winner counts, it was Thiem’s error tally of 40, to Tsitsipas’s 16, that told some of the story.

The Greek simply did not break down as often and played more effective tennis when it counted.

Tsitsipas, who beat Roger Federer in the semifinals a day earlier, wins his third title of the season after triumphing earlier in Marseille and Estoril.

His three career titles had all come at ATP 250 level.

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