Tuesday, November 24

Daniil Medvedev wins ATP Finals title after Dominic Thiem’s ​​comeback | Sport

Daniil Medvedev is the king of tennis until someone proves otherwise, because his 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over world No. 3 and US Open champion Dominic Thiem to lift the trophy of The ATP Tour Finals left the game top players, young and old, piled at his feet.

The 24-year-old Russian did what no one has done here since Roger Federer 10 years ago: he defeated Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal en route to victory, and what no one has done since David Nalbandian in 2007, by sweeping all three. best players. in the world. He is also the sixth winner in six years. The change has come.

Stan Smith sent congratulations to the winner on the pitch’s giant screen on the 50th anniversary of the event, the last in London after 12 years. “What a game, one of my best wins, two hours 42 minutes against Dominic,” Medvedev said. “Your name is already in the history books.” Thiem said: of his opponent, “Of course I am disappointed, but I am also proud of my performance. Daniil really deserved it, a great game and an incredible year. I hope we have many great games to come. “

Medvedev reached the final with the best stats in all aspects of the game except aces, where Thiem improved him 37-31. When they got down to business, face to face, the numbers became irrelevant.

Medvedev, who played delicious but unrewarded tennis, blinked first. Thiem, who admitted he had pressed key points in the semi-final against Djokovic on Saturday, broke the 3-2 after half an hour, but his racket arm was momentarily paralyzed again, and the Russian led him to the deuce, before that. ran away from him.

A hug of love lifted Thiem, not one of nature’s favorites. He conquered the cramp and the scoreboard to beat Alexander Zverev in the US Open final in September, and has been equally strong in this 12th and final edition of this tournament in London: 2-5 down in the first set breaker against Nadal, 0-4 behind in the decisive run against Djokovic. It is as if you feel more comfortable in adversity, where you are sure of your inner strength.

Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem took the first set at the O2, but ultimately fell to Medvedev’s cerebral unpredictability. Photograph: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

However, it was cruel for Medvedev to lose the set when he was in control of the point and was ready to force the deuce only to see Thiem’s ​​forehand go through the net and spin over his shoulder, his 37th point of the set to 34th. Medvedev. He was still desperately close.

The physical and mental jousts continued in equal conditions in the second set. From a distance, they looked like doubles for Djokovic and Nadal, Medvedev the lean and angular recuperator of lost causes, Thiem drifting away like a middleweight looking for a knockout. There was tension in every exchange, much of it created by Thiem as Medvedev fought for rhythm and control of his delicate strategy. The Austrian should have opened the door wide in the seventh game, when Medvedev crazily charged the net behind a second 83mph serve at the break point, but the snatched response veered off. Thiem then overcooked a forehand to an unprotected court at the deuce and the moment was gone.

Thiem, playing with a ferocity that Medvedev countered with cerebral unpredictability, continued to exploit huge ground shots from every corner. After a tense control from Thiem, they moved on to the tie-break, where Muscovite intellect prevailed as Medvedev won six points in a row. Unbelievably, the level skyrocketed as they went blow for blow in the third. Medvedev was biting into Thiem’s ​​physical strength with his languid variety, but was unable to capitalize on three break points in Game 3 against an opponent strong enough to hit a 99 mph forehand, with both feet off the ground and a good 15 feet behind. the baseline.

Excellence did not wane and after nine chances, six of them in the final draw, Medvedev finally broke his man to lead 3-2. He was on a beat, and he stayed there right up to the line, though Thiem fought him at every point.

It was a lurid send-off to an event that former ATP CEO Chris Kermode turned into the biggest earner outside of slams. The lights strategically placed on the empty seats buzzed and clicked in the cavernous darkness of a stadium that has between 17,000 and 18,000 patrons in the good old days, all of which gave the false impression of life and excitement where nothing existed beyond the drama of the two tones. blue battlefield below. And there was no shortage of that.

In a venue that has hosted 2.8 million tennis fans since 2009, most of them cheering for Roger Federer, the finalists did not notice the echo as their rackets rang, their shoes screeched and their little teams dared to punch the hole. silence with the occasional polite applause. .

Meanwhile, embroidering the illusion of the television audience, there were applause machines, very similar to those of televised football without fans in this pandemic lounge. If we ever get back to normal, will we remember what to do at the height of athletic endeavor? The widespread hope is that Turn will hum and vibrate with real cheers at the beginning of his five years in office 12 months from now. “They have been 12 unforgettable years,” observed Colin Fleming on the ATP tennis channel. Almost on the money. But the final act will be remembered not only for excellent tennis, but for the absence of reality as we know it.

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