Stefanos Tsitsipas came back to defeat Dominic Thiem in the final battle for the ATP Finals to be hailed as the youngest winner of the tournament in 18 years. The Greek has cemented his place in tennis history when he came up big over Thiem. He became the youngest titlist since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001.
The title is the biggest of his career and has made his transition from 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion towards the Nitto ATP Finals crown after 12 months.
He defeated the fifth seed, 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (4) in a championship match that lasted for almost two hours and 35 minutes at The O2 in London. It was also Tsitsipas who triumphed one year ago and claimed the Next Gen ATP Finals trophy in Milan.
His win marks the fourth consecutive year that a first-time season finale titlist has won the tournament. The previous winners were Andy Murray (2016), Grigor Dimitrov (2017), and Alexander Zverev (2018).
He is also the first Greek player to win in the ATP Finals. He forced a tie-break to keep his hopes alive before he went on for a great finish and never held back.
Prior to that, he defeated the six-time champion, Roger Federer, to book his shot at the title. He delivered a set of powerful forehands, pinpoint services, and an impressive single-handed backhand which gave him the win.
The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals had a lot at stake for both Tsitsipas and Thiem, both of them were fighting for the biggest title of their career.
‘It was pretty frustrating for me to be playing with such nerves for the first time in such a big event. I was a break-up, I couldn’t manage to hold it’, Tsitsipas said. ‘Things were decided in the tie-break and I am so relieved by this outstanding performance and fight that I gave out on the court’.
Tsitsipas was a hitting partner during the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals. Thiem, on the other hand, had trained with the Greek during his debut in the finals.
Three years later, he won the trophy and became the fourth straight first-time champion at the event. He was also the first player since David Nalbandian in 2005 to recover from losing the opening set and won the title.
‘The crowd support is just phenomenal, having such an army behind me while I am on the court’, said the Greek. ‘They give me so much energy. They give me belief that I can achieve the things I want to achieve on the court’.
Tsitsipas’ biggest weapons had been his serve and forehand. It was his backhand that prevailed against Thiem, as the Greek played more than a set of the match without missing a backhand, using that to turn things around.
The Greek then lost with his team in the recently-held ATP Cup. Team Greece took a loss against Team Australia, but was still proud as his team showed a lot of heart against great players all over the world.
‘We had a difficult draw here in Brisbane, but we played with what we have. Canada, Australia, and Germany, one of the strongest nations in the game, playing against a small, tiny little nation like Greece, which has no history in tennis at all? You got to feel proud’, said Tsitsipas. ‘We fought very hard and we wanted to prove to the rest of the world that we can play tennis anywhere in the world’.