Medvedev storms back to beat Thiem, claim ATP Finals title

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Daniil Medvedev barged to the head of the queue of young pretenders as the Russian captured the biggest title of his career by storming back to beat Dominic Thiem 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4 in an absorbing climax to London’s last ATP Finals on Sunday.

Thiem looked on course to become the first Austrian to win the title, following on from his recent U.S. Open triumph, but the relentless Medvedev turned the tide in superb fashion to cap a stunning week for the 24-year-old.

There was no big celebration as he fired an unreturnable first serve on match point to end the two-hour-and-42-minute scrap and bring the curtain down on 12 memorable years for the event at the O2 Arena before it relocates to Turin.

Fittingly, Medvedev became the first Russian to win the title since Nikolay Davydenko, who won London’s first edition in 2009.

Sadly for an event that attracted 2.8 million fans to the Thames-side arena in its first 11 editions, this year’s tournament, a vintage edition, was staged in a silent arena because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It perhaps explained Medvedev’s muted reaction to claiming the title and becoming only the fourth player in ATP history to beat the world’s top three at the same tournament, joining David Nalbandian (Madrid 2007), Novak Djokovic (Montreal 2007) and Boris Becker (Stockholm 1994).

“First of all what a match. I mean, one of my best victories, three sets against an amazing player,” Medvedev, who avenged his U.S. Open semi-final defeat by Thiem, said on court.

Medvedev’s imaginative game, a blend of sledgehammer power, cunning angles and unreadable serving, had proved beyond Djokovic in the group phase in which he went 100% and then second-ranked Rafael Nadal in Saturday’s semi-final.

The 27-year-old Thiem appeared to have mastered it but ultimately was overwhelmed.

Medvedev’s triumph came a year after a chastening debut at the event when he lost all three group matches. The only other player to achieve such a drastic turnaround is Djokovic in 2008.

After such a hot streak, including claiming this month’s Paris Masters, the Moscovite was perhaps due a dip and it arrived in the first set as he threw away a 40-0 lead on serve at 2-2, gifting Thiem a break with a double-fault.