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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Dominic Thiem to win ATP Finals title

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019
2019 Nitto ATP Finals
Venue: O2 Arena, London Dates: 10-17 November
Coverage: Watch live coverage of one match per day on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer and online; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for Live Guide.

A nerveless Stefanos Tsitsipas came from a set down to beat Dominic Thiem on a thrilling final-set tie-break and become the youngest winner of the ATP Finals in 18 years.

The Greek, 21, won 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 7-6 (7-4) to claim the biggest title of his fledgling career.

Thiem, 26, who edged a tight first set, fell away in the second and the start of the third before fighting back.

But Tsitsipas forced a tie-break, and then won it, at a raucous O2 Arena.

He collapsed to the floor after Thiem put a forehand return out on the first match point before the pair embraced at the end of a two-hour 35-minute battle.

He is the youngest winner of the season-ending championships since Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt in 2001 and claims prize money of just over £2m.

More to follow.

  • Re-live Tsitsipas’ victory over Thiem
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Updates: Thiem, Tsitsipas In First Set

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019

Updates: Thiem, Tsitsipas In First Set

First season finale featuring two single-handed backhands since 2006

Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas are contesting the first set of the title match at the Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday evening.

Tsitsipas came close to the first breakthrough, but Thiem came up with a powerful backhand at 1-2, 30/40. As rallies began to get drawn out, Thiem began to make inroads, but Tsitsipas – who saved 11 of 12 break points in his semi-final win over Roger Federer on Saturday – held firm in the seventh game, saving two break points with gutsy net play for a 4-3 advantage.

The 21-year-old Tsitsipas is the youngest tournament finalist since Juan Martin del Potro (21) in 2009 (l. to Davydenko) and the youngest player to make his debut and reach the final since Jim Courier (21) in 1991 (l. to Sampras). Thiem is guaranteed to finish a year-end best No. 4 in the ATP Rankings.

Infosys ATP Scores & Stats Comparison (Bold=Tournament Leader)

 Stat  Stefanos Tsitsipas  Dominic Thiem
 Aces  30  18
 First-Serve Percentage  64%  61%
 First-Serve Points Won  77%  70%
 Second-Serve Points Won  50%  57%
 Service Games Won  94% (44/47)  88% (44/50)
 Break Points Saved  86% (19/22)  68% (13/19)
 First-Serve Return Points Won  24%  27%
 Second-Serve Return Points Won  52%  48%
 Return Games Won  16% (7/45)  20% (10/49)
 Break Points Converted  47% (7/15)  67% (10/15

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Getting The Band Back Together: Mahut/Herbert To Continue Reunion Tour

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019

Getting The Band Back Together: Mahut/Herbert To Continue Reunion Tour

Frenchmen open up after prevailing at the Nitto ATP Finals

After squandering a championship point in last year’s Nitto ATP Finals, the pure joy on the faces of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut was palpable as they walked off centre court at The O2 as champions in London.

Friends and family gathered in the locker room and waited for the Frenchmen to arrive. The vast entourage surpassed the number of champagne glasses available for everyone. When Herbert and Mahut entered, the group cheered in unison as the champions raised their fists in triumph.Herbert <a href=''>Nitto ATP Finals</a> 2019 celebration

Mahut leapt into the arms of his coach and Herbert kissed his fiancée, Julia. The champagne flowed freely as they gave toasts thanking their loved one for supporting them throughout the year, with each speech earning a rousing reception. Having suffered painful defeats in each of their past three appearances at The O2, they were eager to make the most of their celebration.

“We’ve been through a lot of emotions on this court. The first three years were catastrophic,” said Herbert. “Last year, one point was missing. Now we’ve managed to win it, so it’s just amazing.”

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Herbert/Mahut Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Doubles Crown

Prevailing at the season finale was particularly meaningful because it wasn’t a guarantee that the Frenchmen would be back. After winning the Australian Open in January (d. Kontinen/Peers) and becoming the eighth men’s doubles team to complete the career Grand Slam, Herbert shifted his focus to singles. They only teamed up five more times leading into the Rolex Paris Masters in October, posting a 4-5 record.

But after Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies clinched their spot in the season-ending championships, Herbert and Mahut qualified in accordance to the Grand Slam rule. Buoyed by earning their fifth successive appearance at The O2, the Frenchmen found their groove and took the title in Paris without dropping a set (d. Khachanov/Rublev).

They matched that effort in London by winning another five matches without dropping a set, becoming the first team to achieve the feat since Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in 2015.

“It’s an amazing feeling. Last year was a little bit painful,” Mahut admitted. “The first goal was to qualify and the second goal was to go through to the end. We played an amazing week and the final was our best match.

”It’s a privilege. We had a tough year, but we came back stronger, so it’s a nice way to finish the season.”

Herbert vowed that their end-of-season reunion wasn’t a mere nostalgia moment. The Frenchmen will team up again next season and already have an eye on defending their title at The O2.

“We’re going to play, for sure!” Herbert said. “We’re going to try to be as competitive as we were this week. That’s the goal.”

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Herbert/Mahut Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Doubles Crown

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019

Herbert/Mahut Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Doubles Crown

Frenchmen finish event with 5-0 record

One year ago, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut came within one point of lifting the Nitto ATP Finals trophy for the first time. When presented with a second chance on Sunday, the Frenchmen finally claimed the crown at The O2 with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus.

“It is pretty special [to win this trophy]. Maybe, for doubles, it is one of the toughest tournaments to win,” said Herbert. “After our story in London — we had three really tough years and last year we had a match point in the final — being able to win here is an amazing feeling.”

The seventh seeds notched their ninth straight victory to lift the trophy after 70 minutes, saving all four break points they faced. Mahut and Herbert have won all 18 sets they have contested since arriving at the Rolex Paris Masters last month. The career Grand Slam winners are the first team to lift the trophy at The O2 without dropping a set since Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in 2015.

“We had a great week in Bercy and we really played well in the group stage,” said Mahut. “The final was maybe the best match we played during the week. It is fantastic to finish with this high-quality tennis.”

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Herbert and Mahut become the first French team to capture the season-ending crown since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, who triumphed in 2005 in Shanghai. This is their 15th tour-level trophy as a team, adding to 2019 crowns at the Australian Open and Rolex Paris Masters. With their Australian Open trophy in January, Herbert and Mahut became only the eighth men’s doubles team to complete the career Grand Slam.

“Thank you for sharing the court with me, for having so much enjoyable moments and giving me so much joy when I am with you on the court,” said Herbert, on playing with Mahut. “You played an unbelievable final, so thank you for that.”

With their 10th victory in 18 matches at this event, Herbert and Mahut improve to 19-5 this season. The Frenchmen collect 1,500 ATP Doubles Rankings points for their unbeaten title run in London and share $533,000 in prize money.

The Frenchmen broke for a 3-1 lead in the first set, as Herbert attacked Klaasen with a series of low backhands to extract errors from the 37-year-old. The seventh seeds maintained their advantage through to 5-3, when Herbert fired an ace out wide to clinch the opener after 33 minutes.

After Mahut saved break point at 2-3 in the second set with a powerful body serve, the Frenchmen made their move in the following game. In the first two points, both players fired return winners before Klaasen double-faulted to concede the break. Mahut used a familiar serving tactic on championship point, firing into the body of Venus to clinch the title.

Two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Max Mirnyi carried the trophy on court for the doubles trophy presentation ceremony. The Belarusian had the honour, alongside Jonas Bjorkman, of having one of two round-robin groups named after him at this year’s event. Mirnyi was joined on court by ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode, Nitto ATP Finals Event Director Adam Hogg, AEG Europe President and CEO Alex Hill and Nitto President, CEO and COO Hideo Takasaki.

“We won the Max Mirnyi group and today we won the final in front of you, Max, so it is a priviledge,” said Mahut. “You are such a legend and we are really happy to win in front of you. Thank you, Max, for coming.”

After saving two match points in their semi-final win against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, Klaasen and Venus were attempting to capture their third title of the year. The fifth seeds lifted ATP 500 trophies in Halle and Washington, D.C and also reached finals in Auckland and Rome. Klaasen and Venus leave London with 800 ATP Doubles Rankings points and will split $289,000.

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Give new Davis Cup format a chance – Murray

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019

Andy Murray has urged players and fans to give the new Davis Cup format a chance, with next week’s tournament hit by some high-profile absences.

The week-long event, starting in Madrid on Monday, has 18 nations competing in six groups – replacing the old system of home and away ties through the year.

Among the top-10 players missing it are Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev.

“Tennis is not always the easiest to make changes in and this is a big change,” Britain’s Murray said.

“I think there’s some people that seem to be hoping it doesn’t go well but I hope it goes really well and that it’s a big success.

“The players and all of the fans need to try to give it a chance to see how it goes and I think we’ll have a better idea after the tournament’s finished.”

The former world number one has been in the Spanish capital this week with his Great Britain team-mates to prepare for their group matches against the Netherlands on Wednesday and Kazakhstan on Thursday.

German world number seven Zverev has opted not to play, saying the new format of the prestigious men’s team tennis competition is “not Davis Cup”.

Meanwhile, Russian world number four Medvedev withdrew this week to recover after a long season, while Roger Federer’s Switzerland and Dominic Thiem’s Austria did not qualify.

However, there are still plenty of big names who will be there, with Rafael Nadal leading home hopes for Spain and Novak Djokovic playing for Serbia.

The 25-year, £2.15bn revamp of the Davis Cup is funded by an investment group led by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique’s Kosmos company.

Under the new system, group winners – as well as the two second-placed teams with the best records – progress to the quarter-finals, with the semi-finals and final taking place on 23 and 24 November.

Matches will consist of two singles and one doubles rubber, all played over three sets on a hard court at the Caja Magica.

Critics of the new format have pointed to the loss of the partisan Davis Cup atmospheres of old, such as the Glasgow crowd that roared the British team into the 2015 final, which they won against Belgium in Ghent.

“I’m going to miss that but I love being around the team and I’m excited to see what the new format looks like and I hope the atmosphere is brilliant,” Murray said. “That’s my one concern.”

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ATP University Salutes Latest Graduating Class

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019

ATP University Salutes Latest Graduating Class

14 ATP Tour players complete intensive three-day course in London

The top eight players in the ATP Race to London are rewarded by competing at the Nitto ATP Finals, but several other ATP Tour players received their own reward this week in the same city.

A group of 14 players graduated from ATP University on Wednesday after completing a three-day course designed to give them the skills to succeed on Tour. The educational session is held twice per year and offers a range of presentations covering topics including savings and investments, media training, social media and anti-doping. An ATP IQ competition testing players on their knowledge from the course was held on the final day, with Slovak Andrej Martin prevailing and Pole Kamil Majchrzak finishing in second.

“I have really enjoyed the time with the other players and the ATP. It was a great three days,” said Majchrzak. “I could refresh the knowledge that I have and learn a few new things, so it was very useful. I especially loved the presentation from the Winston-Salem Open tournament director [Bill Oakes].”

Over 1,000 past and present ATP Tour players have graduated from the program. Any player in his first year of ATP World Tour Division I membership is required to attend ATP University. Players inside the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings and Top 100 of the ATP Doubles Rankings are eligible for the membership.

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ATP University Reaches 1,000 Graduates

The participants ranged in age from 19 (Rudolf Molleker) to 31 (Pedro Sousa). But regardless of whether they were new to the Tour or established players, there were insights for everyone to gain.

“It’s a recognition of getting somewhere with your tennis. You’re playing at a similar level and there are benefits to that membership, but also responsibilities that come with the life on Tour,” said Diego Pedraza Novak, Coordinator, Player Communications. “Whether you’re new on Tour or older and just getting [the membership] now, it’s a unifying thing.”

The highlight for many players in attendance was Carlos Moya, former World No. 1 and current coach of Rafael Nadal, kicking off the session on Monday. Moya spoke about his time on Tour and what it’s like to work with the 19-time Grand Slam champion.

“Just to get some insight into what [Nadal] is doing post-match, before the match, after getting to the final of a Grand Slam… You begin to think that these are things we should be picking up and putting into our routines as well,” said South African Lloyd Harris. “It’s small things from different categories that you can pick up and use.”

But it wasn’t all lectures and presentations during the three days. The players also made their way to The O2 on Tuesday night to take in the action at the season-ending championships.

“It was pretty fun. I enjoyed it and had three good days there,” said Pole Hubert Hurkacz. “I had a chance to learn many things about tennis and the ATP. I’ll remember it as being quite important and fun.”

The London 2019 graduates included Harris, Hurkacz, Majchrzak, Molleker, Sousa, Martin Roberto Quiroz, Jurij Rodionov, Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, Constant Lestienne, Lorenzo Giustino, Soonwoo Kwon and Cheng-Peng Hsieh.

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Thiem & Tsitsipas: From Practice Partners To London Finalists

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019

Thiem & Tsitsipas: From Practice Partners To London Finalists

Thiem reflects on both of their journeys

Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will play on Sunday for the Nitto ATP Finals title, have already competed six times in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (Thiem leads 4-2) and been Laver Cup teammates for Team Europe.

But their relationship began in 2016 in a much more nondescript place – a practice court at The O2. Thiem was making his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals, and Tsitsipas was a baby-faced practice partner, wide-eyed and in awe of the top players on the ATP Tour.

If Tsitsipas thought then, at the age of 18, that he’d be playing in the season finale title match only three years later, that would make him the only 2019 finalist who had such confidence.

It’s amazing story for both of us, because probably both of us, we didn’t think that only three years later we were going to face each other in the final,” Thiem said.

The Austrian secured his place in his first Nitto ATP Finals title match with a 7-5, 6-3 win against defending champion Alexander Zverev on Saturday evening. Tsitsipas beat six-time champion Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4 earlier on Saturday.

He really deserves it. He’s a good person. He’s a very good player with a very attractive style to watch, so it’s good to have him,” Thiem said of Tsitsipas. “We have a great time outside the court. But once we take the step on the court, it’s a battle and we forget for two, three hours, our friendships.”

The 26-year-old paid attention to Tsitsipas’ level during their practice and was even more impressed last year when they played on the ATP Tour for the first time.

There I saw and I also felt his amazing potential. Then at the end of the year [2018], already he was No. 14 or 15, and then everybody could see where his direction goes, only up, only in absolute world class,” Thiem said.

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Final Preview: Will Thiem Or Tsitsipas Win Their Biggest Title Yet?

Winning the Nitto ATP Finals title would be the biggest title for either player, and it also would mark a drastic improvement from where each of them finished the season 12 months ago.

Thiem finished 1-2 in group play and did not advance to the semi-finals at the season finale for the third consecutive year. Tsitsipas won the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan (d. De Minaur).

In fact, before this season, Thiem had won 11 titles but only two on hard court. This year, however, Thiem has won five titles, including three on hard court, and he could add his biggest yet on Sunday.

I made some little changes through the year, like my forehand, I shortened up the swing a little bit, which helps me, especially on the faster surfaces. And then I also made some little changes at serve and then return,” Thiem said.

I really hope that I can continue my great level of tennis in 2020, and now I have the feeling that my game is really moving in the right direction.”

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Zverev: 'For The Young Guys, [2020] Is Going To Be An Exciting Year'

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019

Zverev: ‘For The Young Guys, [2020] Is Going To Be An Exciting Year’

German reflects after semi-final loss to Thiem in London

Alexander Zverev finished the 2018 season with a bang, winning the biggest title of his career at the Nitto ATP Finals. That helped the German finish at year-end World No. 4.

Even though he was unable to maintain that momentum in 2019, Zverev managed to qualify for the season finale for the third consecutive year, and he showed some of his best tennis — including a straight-sets win against World No. 1 Rafael Nadal — to reach the semifinals in London. He closes out the campaign at World No. 7.

“To finish the year No. 7 in the world, for me, with all the things that happened to me and with all the things that were happening is actually quite incredible. I didn’t think I would. In that point, you can see it in a very positive way,” Zverev said. “Of course, I was very disappointed, because I wanted to win more tournaments. I wanted to play better at the big tournaments.”

Zverev triumphed in Geneva this year for his 11th ATP Tour trophy, and finishes the season with a 44-25 record. It is the fourth straight year in which he has eclipsed the 40-win mark.

“After the US Open I started playing much, much better. I hope I can take that into next season, and we will see,” said Zverev, who made the semi-finals of the China Open and then the championship match of the Rolex Shanghai Masters following a fourth-round showing in Flushing Meadows.

Zverev entered his clash against Dominic Thiem on Saturday with plenty of confidence following a must-win match that he triumphed in on Friday against Daniil Medvedev. But he was unable to find the same level against the Austrian star, who advanced to his first final at this event.

“The match was, I thought, pretty even. Dominic obviously played very good from the baseline,” Zverev said. “But today I was playing with no returns, actually. I was returning really bad and didn’t put a lot of pressure on his serve. And when I did, he was coming out with good serves, good points. Credit to him. I played a bad game in the second set, and that match was over a few games later.”

Zverev was one of four 23-and-under players to compete at The O2 this week. Two of those four (Zverev and Tsitsipas) made the semi-finals, and the German believes there will be more success for the sport’s rising stars in 2020.

“I think next year will bring a new Grand Slam champion. We’ll see who that will be, because I think the young guys are playing incredible tennis,” Zverev said. “It can be Daniil, it can be Stefanos, it can be Dominic. I’m in the mix, as well, I hope. We’ll see what next year brings. But I think for the young guys, it’s going to be an exciting year.”

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Tsitsipas' Father, Apostolos Tsitsipas: A Tennis Coach, By Accident

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019

Tsitsipas’ Father, Apostolos Tsitsipas: A Tennis Coach, By Accident

Father and coach of Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Federer on Saturday, excels despite his unconventional path into tennis

Based on his childhood, it’s far more likely that Apostolos Tsitsipas would be coaching the Greek national football team than the country’s global tennis star, his son and World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat six-time champion Roger Federer on Saturday to reach the title match of the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

Apostolos and his brother goofed around on a nearby, self-maintained “grass court” with wooden racquets as kids, but, growing up, Apostolos’ sports were football and basketball. He briefly competed on the Greek national football team.

As a sport science major at the University of Athens, he specialised in tennis for reasons that still elude him.

It was strange because nobody from my background was involved in tennis,” he told “But I chose tennis, I don’t know why. Actually, that’s a good question.”

Rare is the coach of a top player who didn’t compete on the ATP Tour or at least collegiately in the U.S. Although they weren’t all household names as players, all but three coaches of the eight Nitto ATP Finals qualifiers earned ATP Ranking points during their playing days.

Coaches Of The Top 10 Players In The ATP Rankings

ATP Ranking



Coaches’ Career-High ATP Rankings


Rafael Nadal

Carlos Moya/Francisco Roig



Novak Djokovic

Marian Vajda/Goran Ivanisevic



Roger Federer

Ivan Ljubicic/Severin Luthi


4 Daniil Medvedev Gilles Cervara 0


Dominic Thiem

Nicolas Massu


6 Stefanos Tsitsipas Apostolos Tsitsipas 0


Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev Sr.



Matteo Berrettini

Vincenzo Santopadre, Umberto Rianna


The former players turned coaches have been there done that and can offer experience as a top asset. But others, including Apostolos, have shown that playing inside The O2 in front of roaring crowds is not a prerequisite to leading a player into the Top 10.

Apostolos, along with his wife, Ioulia Salnikova, a former Top 200 WTA player, started teaching Stefanos tennis at the age of three. Dad focused on technique – his one-handed backhand, taking the ball early – and Mom on discipline, “Always do your best.”

When Stefanos was 12, Apostolos joined his son as his full-time coach, travelling with him to junior events across the world, and that’s where Apostolos remains today, in his son’s coaching box, the gray-haired father of four applauding and encouraging his 21-year-old son.

It’s a big honour to have him next to me by my side,” Stefanos said. “I love him. He loves me. We have been together since the age of 12, travelling together. I appreciate that.”

When Apostolos was 20, in his third year at the University of Athens, he had only just decided on tennis as his sport. Three years later, at the age of 23, he played in his first tennis tournament of any kind, the Greek championships.

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From there, his tennis coaching took him across the world. Apostolos travelled for two years with loulia on the WTA and studied tennis coaching for three more years in Vienna and Berlin in the early 1990s, during the the golden period of German tennis, when Boris Becker and Steffi Graf were at the top of the men’s and women’s games.

But his growing family of four required a more stable life, so he accepted a job as a country club teaching pro in Athens. Apostolos, armed with seven years of coaching education and a decade of recreational playing experience, tried to teach more than wins and losses to his players and their families. When the parents would want more wins, he’d ask for more time.

I was explaining that we can do a lot of things, but we need to consider seriously that it will take us five, six years to develop a young player. But people, they’re not really patient enough to wait, to invest money, invest time,” Apostolos said. “You have to develop as an athlete, your body. You have to develop your mind… and you have to develop your technique.”

Years later, however, when Stefanos told his father he was ready to take tennis more seriously, Apostolos finally met a parent he could reason with: himself.

<a href=''>Apostolos Tsitsipas</a> and his father <a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a> have travelled together since Stefanos was 12

The two have been travelling together for nine years, with Apostolos helping Stefanos climb 76 spots in the ATP Rankings last year (91 to 15), and this year, the Greek has completed the Milan to London transition, from winning the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals title to playing in the title match of the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals in London.

Despite guiding his son to unprecedented achievements in Greek tennis history, Apostolos doesn’t think of himself as the one making headlines. The father who has led his son every step of his career says that he feels fortunate his son has chosen him.

With Stefanos, even though I studied so much, I just feel that I know very few things. You need to always be open-minded and ready to learn. Stefanos gave me such a chance to learn,” Apostolos said. “I think he was the best university for me.”

It’s a school of thought that can be rare among coaches of any sport, especially those at the top of their game. But, in this case, it sounds about right; it sounds like Apostolos Tsitsipas.

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Final Preview: Will Thiem Or Tsitsipas Win Their Biggest Title Yet?

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2019

Final Preview: Will Thiem Or Tsitsipas Win Their Biggest Title Yet?

Both players are competing in the final at The O2 for the first time

Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas both broke new ground on Saturday at the Nitto ATP Finals by reaching the championship match. Neither could wipe the smile from their face as they began their on-court interviews in front of the London crowd.

“This is just a big, big dream coming true for me,” Thiem said.

“I remember myself being one of these kids here, watching the event, and for me it was just, I could never picture myself standing here,” said Tsitsipas after eliminating Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4. “But it did happen. Dreams do come true.”

They are turning their dreams into a reality. This is a moment both men have been waiting for their entire lives, and for one of them, it will get even better when they lift the trophy at the season finale on Sunday.

“It is one of the best tournaments all year, one of the most prestigious tournaments all year and I’m getting the chance to play the final tomorrow. It’s unreal to me,” said Thiem, who ousted defending champion Alexander Zverev 7-5, 6-3 in the semi-finals. “To beat the defending champion, a good player, an unbelievable player, this is always a great achievement and I’m very, very happy.”

Three years ago, Thiem competed in the year-end championships for the first time. One of his hitting partners was an 18-year-old Tsitsipas, who at the time was in awe of the superstars around him.

“A little bit more and I’ll end up playing with all the players from the #ATPWorldTourFinals,” Tsitsipas wrote on Instagram to caption a picture of him with Thiem that week in 2016.

“Dominic has inspired me a lot to be a better version of myself when I’m out on the court. I see a lot of things that he does on the court, and I try to do the same. Because I have mentioned this before: what Roger does, only Roger does. It’s really difficult to copy what you see,” Tsitsipas said on Saturday. “So to me Dominic is more… normal, normal in a way that [he brings] something that’s possible.

“Dominic has always been someone that I looked up to and wanted always to play with the same intensity and the same will that he puts in the court. He puts in a lot of effort and… I would just describe him as an intense player. If he’s in the zone, he can just create so much opportunities with his game.”

Thiem leads the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series 4-2, with their most recent meeting coming in October’s China Open final, in which the Austrian triumphed 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. That was the first time in this rivalry that the player who won the first set did not win the match.

“I just saw a picture before that I practised with him the first time I played here in 2016,” Thiem said. “It’s [an] amazing story for both of us, because probably both of us, we didn’t think that only three years later we were going to face each other in the final.”

This is just the second time since 1996 that the championship match at the Nitto ATP Finals will feature two players with one-handed backhands. In 1996, Pete Sampras beat Boris Becker, and in 2006, Roger Federer defeated James Blake.

“That’s a very nice fact, because I think there was a time where there were not many players with a one-handed backhand. And now me and also way younger, amazing players like Stefanos or Denis Shapovalov play [with a] one-handed backhand, so we are going to see it for also the next 10, 15 years, which is great,” Thiem said. “I think if you play it well like we do, it has a lot of advantages, and also, or maybe especially, indoors because of the slice, because of the many options you have.”

One area to look out for will be break point conversions. In the pair’s five previous meetings, they both have converted on 40 per cent of their break opportunities. Thiem has broken on 18 of 45 chances, while Tsitsipas has been successful on 14 of 35 attempts. On Saturday, Tsitsipas saved 11 of the 12 break points he faced against Federer, helping him move past the 38-year-old Swiss.

This is the eighth time that both finalists at the Nitto ATP Finals have made it that far for the first time.

If 21-year-old Tsitsipas wins title, he will be the youngest champion at the season finale since a 20-year-old Lleyton Hewitt in 2001. The Greek would become the sixth-youngest champion in the tournament’s 50-year history. John McEnroe holds the record for youngest champion, lifting the trophy in 1978, when he was 19. The five youngest titlist’s in the event’s history all reached No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

Youngest Champions In Nitto ATP Finals History

Player   Year  Age
 1. John McEnroe  1978  19
 2. Pete Sampras  1991  20
 3. Andre Agassi  1990  20
 4. Lleyton Hewitt  2001  20
 5. Boris Becker  1988  21

Thiem was already the first Austrian to reach the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals, including former World No. 1 Thomas Muster. In his first three appearances, Thiem earned one victory each, and did not reach the last four. Now he will try to claim the trophy in the same year he won his first ATP Masters 1000 title (Indian Wells).

Did You Know?
There will be a fourth straight first-time champion at the Nitto ATP Finals. The last time that happened in the tournament was from 1988-91 with Becker, Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi and Sampras.

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