The Russian Daniil Medvedev ended the season with a great comeback to defeat the Austrian rival Dominic Thiem and win the first ATP final title in London.
It was the perfect end of the season for the 24-year-old Medvedev, who became the second Russian to ever win the ATP final title in his 50-year history, when he defeated Thiem in three sets 4: 6: 7: 6 (7-2) 6 -4 in the O2 Arena.
The title is the biggest the Russian has won in his career to date and has concluded a flawless week in the British capital with Medvedev winning each of his five games.
For Thiem, number three in the world, it was a disappointment at the end of a successful year in which the 27-year-old finally achieved a Grand Slam breakthrough by winning the US Open in September.
Both Thiem and Medvedev had defeated the world’s two best Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal when they reached the final in London. Thiem defeated Nadal in the group stage before defeating Djokovic in the semifinals and Medvedev vice versa.
In a showdown between potential future Grand Slam series winners, the early exchange between Thiem and Medvedev in the O2 Arena was accompanied by a serve before the Austrian took advantage of the fifth game. Medvedev was double faulty 0 in the game after 40 years.
It was negligent from the world number four who had largely felt comfortable on their own serve when they pushed Thiem as the Austrian was serving.
Thiem consolidated the break to see the set 6-4 after 49 minutes and benefited from a good luck at the set point when the ball shot into the net and went over the bat of a helpless Medvedev.
Thiem raised his hand apologetically and smiled at Medvedev when the first sentence slipped for the Russian – just like in his semi-final against Nadal.
The second set was initially served, although Medvedev fended off the breakpoint in a close fight in the fifth game.
Medvedev then survived two more breakpoints in game seven, although Thiem was well placed to capitalize on both occasions.
The Austrian yelled in frustration after shooting a shot out of bounds to let Medvedev off the hook as the Russian took a 4-3 lead in the set.
Thiem was forced to secure his own breakpoint in the eighth game, but a hard-fought set stayed in action to achieve a tie.
Medvedev took a 6-2 lead on the breaker to secure four set points, but only needed one opportunity as he fired an ace to take one set apiece as the match topped the two-hour mark in London .
The early momentum in the decisive set was with Medvedev, when he forced the Austrian to secure three breakpoints in his second service game. This should ultimately be a missed opportunity for Medvedev as Thiem gathered to make sure things stayed on duty.
But the Austrian was increasingly mumbling to himself and showing signs of frustration when Medvedev turned the screw by holding onto love in the next game.
It was a third set of attrition rallies from two equal rivals, but Thiem found it harder to serve as Medvedev maneuvered his large frame around the court much more fluidly, forcing the Austrian into an increasing barrage of casual mistakes.
A stubborn forehand in game five enabled Medvedev to reach another breakpoint for the Thiem serve, and while the Austrian was digging himself out of a hole to do it in twos, Medvedev finally used a third breakpoint in the upcoming game, to knock down a winner and take the initiative.
Thiem brought Medvedev to a duel in the next game, but missed a decisive pass shot so that the Russian could consolidate the break and take a 4-2 lead in the set.
The Austrian filled the void with an unusually fast service game, but Medvedev did the same to keep the pressure going, overtaking an adorable backhand winner close to the net to make it 5-3 and putting himself in a game of the title.
Thiem held the serve to stay in the game, but Medvedev stayed cool as he served for the championship, claiming the biggest title of his career and making history by becoming the first man to top all three on his way to winning -Player of the world defeated accolade.
Daniil Medvedev is the first player in the history of tennis to defeat world No. 1 (Djokovic) No. 2 (Nadal) and No. 3 (Thiem) and win the Nitto Atp final.
– Enrico Maria Riva (@enricomariariva) November 22, 2020
This was the longest best of three finals in the history of the ATP final. 2h42
– José Morgado (@josemorgado) November 22, 2020
Medvedev’s reaction was muted in front of the empty stands in London, but it was still an impressive performance by the Russian, who will now try to stand in his name with a Grand Slam title in 2021.
This year’s ATP final in London was the last to be played after a 12-year stay in the British capital. The event moved to Turin, Italy in 2021.