London, 23 November 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Russian Daniil Medvedev finished the tennis season in London on Sunday with a 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 triumph against Austria’s Dominic Thiem to lift the ATP Finals trophy inside an empty O2 Arena.
Thiem, who lost last year’s ATP final to Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, clinched the first set by a single break after he survived two early break points from Medvedev’s determined rallying.
Medvedev fought back from 2-0 behind in the second set tie-break to level the scoreboard and collected a decisive break in the third en route to the trophy, which ends an outstanding performance.
“My level of game here the last two matches has been unbelievable,” said Medevedev.
“To beat Dominic in the last match here is the best victory of my life. It’s a great boost of confidence for all the tournaments coming up next year.”
Medvedev is the only man to beat the world’s top three players at the Tour Finals with successes over number one Novak Djokovic in the group stage, Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals and third-ranked Thiem to lift the trophy for the first time.
“That’s super impressive. Probably if you look at the whole tournament, he was the best player,” said Thiem. “Hats off. It was great from him.”
It is the biggest title of the 24-year-old’s career but he achieved the accolade without any support from public spectators because of coronavirus restrictions in Britain as London says goodbye as the event host after 12 years.
Next year’s season-ending tournament that features the world’s best eight players will be held in Turin, Italy.
The last season-finale contest in London on the tournament’s 50th anniversary was a repeat of the US Open semi-final.
Thiem conquered Medvedev in New York back in August before going on to win his first grand slam title, and this trophy battle began with the 27-year-old Austrian in charge.
After fighting away a pair of break points at 1-1, Thiem grabbed the first advantage by breaking for a 3-2 lead before a punched forehand finisher helped consolidate a two-game cushion.
Medvedev killed off quick points and rallied hard to find a way back into the match and was left frustrated when Thiem wrapped up the first set with a fortunate winner that clipped the net cord.
Medvedev’s previous and only victory over Thiem in four meetings was in the 2019 quarter-finals of the Montreal Masters.
He started to gather hope of notching another win when Medvedev collected seven consecutive points from 2-0 down in the tie-break and opened up a championship decider.
“He was really close to winning it, second set. I managed to stay there,” Medvedev explained.
“And, I mean, to make Dominic tired in a three-set match, I think is a great achievement.”
Thiem escaped three early break points at 1-1 in the final set but he couldn’t avoid another as Medvedev kept chipping away until he grasped the break he needed on his ninth chance with a drop volley before pulling 4-2 in front.
“The way he (Medvedev) broke me in the third set was an unreal game,” Thiem reflected. “He put great returns in. I had few chances to convert that game. I can only say well done to him, and that’s everything today.”
After an unsuccessful debut last year where Medvedev went home after losing three matches in a row, he was in unstoppable form this time around.
The world number four remained unshaken on serve as he finished the match in two hours 42 minutes when Thiem folded under an overwhelming delivery that capped Medvedev’s impressive run to the title.
In the doubles event, Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic ended the year with their first doubles title together after a 6-2 3-6 10-5 victory over Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.