05:20 AM GMT November 24, 2020
Daniil Medvedev won the biggest title of his career on Sunday, battling past US Open champion Dominic Thiem 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 after two hours and 43 minutes to win the Nitto ATP Finals.
Medvedev, who also beat five-time champion Novak Djokovic and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal earlier in the week, is the first player to sweep the top three players in the FedEx ATP Rankings at the season finale. The Russian is only the fourth player to accomplish the feat at a single event since the start of the ATP Tour in 1990. Medvedev is the first player from his country to win the year-end championships since Nikolay Davydenko in 2009.
“I always said before this tournament that it would be an amazing story if, here in London, where the tournament was for  years, that the first champion would be Russian and the last champion would be Russian, too," Medvedev said during the trophy ceremony. "A lot of thanks to Nikolay Davydenko for being an inspiration for many kids [like] me [by] winning here. I hope to continue doing his job.”
Players To Beat World's Top Three At A Single Event
|2020 Nitto ATP Finals||Daniil Medvedev|
|2007 Madrid||David Nalbandian|
|2007 Montreal||Novak Djokovic|
|1994 Stockholm||Boris Becker|
*Since start of the ATP Tour in 1990
Entering the Rolex Paris Masters two weeks ago, Medvedev was just 18-10 on the season without a win against Top 10 opponents. Since arriving at Paris-Bercy, where he lifted his third ATP Masters 1000 trophy, the 24-year-old has won 10 consecutive matches, including seven against the Top 10.
One year ago, Medvedev made a winless debut at this tournament, claiming just one set. Now he is the undefeated 2020 champion, earning 1,500 FedEx ATP Ranking points. Medvedev is the sixth different champion at the year-end championships in the past six years.
Thiem did well to save the first eight break points he faced in the match, using his booming serve and powerful groundstrokes to escape trouble throughout the match. But the Austrian flirted with disaster once too often, and he was unable to recover against his younger opponent, whom he first played in the juniors nearly a decade ago in Umag.
”What a match. One of my best victories, two hours [and] 42 [minutes], three sets against an amazing player," Medvedev said. "Dominic, congratulations already for what you achieved in your career. Your name is already in the history of tennis books. It is amazing. You won a Grand Slam this year. You are playing unbelievable. I hope we are going to have many more matches to come on the big occasions like this."
Medvedev's Run To The Title
|Final||Dominic Thiem||4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4|
|SF||Rafael Nadal||3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3|
|RR||Diego Schwartzman||6-3, 6-3|
|RR||Novak Djokovic||6-3, 6-3|
|RR||Alexander Zverev||6-3, 6-4|
Medvedev is known for his nearly impenetrable defence, but he showed early on that he wanted to control play from the baseline, stepping inside the court to try to keep Thiem from unleashing his powerful groundstrokes. The World No. 4 attacked Thiem's forehand to try to stop the Austrian from playing from the ad court.
Thiem increasingly used his backhand slice, mimicking a tactic used by Nadal against Medvedev on Saturday to avoid giving the Russian pace to work with. In the critical moments, like he did against the Spaniard, Medvedev took advantage of the slower pace of play by moving forward often.
It was like deja vu for the Russian, who broke in the same manner in the third set as he did against Nadal. The World No. 4 read an incoming backhand slice and swooped into net, where he finished the job. The forehand volley Medvedev put away was ultimately the deciding point in the match, as he held his serve the rest of the way. The champion hit 12 aces in his victory and only lost two first-serve points (14/16) in the deciding set.
"I remember some of the [break points] and he was playing unbelievable," Medvedev said. "I remember he was crushing the ball as if there was no tomorrow. So, yeah, lucky and happy to finally make it in the third set actually in good style, going to the net, winning the point with a winner."
Medvedev now trails the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-2. Just two months ago, Thiem beat Medvedev in straight sets at the US Open.
"I think it was the toughest victory in my life because Dominic is a really tough player to play. I think today he was at his best," Medvedev said. "Maybe it's not the case, but that's what I felt during the match. He was really close to winning it [in the] second set. I managed to stay there."
The Austrian was trying to become the first player from his country to win the Nitto ATP Finals in singles or doubles. It is the second consecutive year he has suffered a heartbreaking loss at The O2. Last season, Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Thiem in a final-set tie-break for the trophy.
”Of course, I am disappointed, but at the same time I am also proud of the performance of all the week. Daniil really deserved it," Thiem said during the trophy ceremony. "[It was an] amazing match. Congratulations for, in general, another great year. I think it was an amazing month [in] November, with [the] Bercy title and here and I hope we will have many great matches to come. It was a pleasure today, even though I lost.”
Did You Know?
Lasting two hours and 43 minutes, this was the longest best-of-three set final in Nitto ATP Finals history.