Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (N.6) beat Austrian Dominic Thiem (N.4) and achieved, at age 21 and in his first participation, the Masters, the competition that brings together the eight best tennis players of the season, this Sunday in London in an excellent final.
Tsitsipas, who on Saturday had knocked down legend Roger Federer (N.3) in the semifinals, came back from the opening set that Thiem won to win 6-7 (6/8), 6-2 and 7-6 (7/4 ) in 2 hours and 35 minutes of play.
– ‘The most brutal sport’ –
“I don’t know how I could play so well in the second set. I think my mind was calm and I didn’t give him many opportunities to play. But it was frustrating to play with so many nerves, I am relieved that I managed to win, “he said.
The Greek, who a year ago won the Next Gen, the unofficial Masters for players under 21, made the leap to the senior category in style. He became the youngest champion of the event since the Australian Lleyton Hewitt won it in 2001 at the age of 20.
At London 02 in London, where many chanted his name, Tsitsipas was more effective in the decisive moments than Thiem, 26, who was one step away from crowning an excellent season, in which he won five titles, including Indian Wells, and was a finalist at Roland Garros for the second year in a row.
The Austrian, weighed down by a virus throughout the week, leaves London with a positive balance, where he has shown great progression on hard surfaces and indoors, with victories against Federer, Novak Djokovic and defending champion Alexander Zverev.
Thiem addressed Tsitsipas when he spoke after the match: “It was a tough moment. It was an incredible game. Stefanos, we are playing the most brutal sport there is. I was very close. I gave 110% but it is what it is. You really deserve it. You are a magnificent player. I hope we have great finals in the future.
– Nadal, the only one who beat him –
Tsitsipas, a perfect mix of maturity and fearlessness, only lost his serve four times in the entire tournament. This Sunday he was also brilliant on the net and knew how to contain his nerves in a duel of great intrigue, with both tennis players showing a very high level.
«It was an exceptional fight and we have given everything on the track. This final has been really magnificent, I think things like that make our sport so great, “said the winner.
The Greek, who won four games this week in London and only lost to Rafael Nadal (N.1), lost the first set in a tie break after 65 minutes of play.
Between two players with a one-handed backhand, both very inspired by service, the Greek stepped forward in the second – he was 4-0 – in which he left Thiem no options.
In the decisive round, Tsitsipas scored the first break, but Thiem found his hit again and balanced the scale. They walked hand in hand until the outcome in the tie break, in which the Greek prodigy shook the racket less.
«It has been my best year, but I want to improve without stopping. I have beaten some of the best players which has given me confidence. I think I can do better at the Grand Slam, “said Tsitsipas, winner in Estoril and Marseille this year.
Tennis has a new teacher, only 21 years old, the fourth to do so for the first time in four years after Andy Murray (2016), Grigor Dimitrov (2017) and Zverev (2018). AFP