LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas went down one set early, but clawed his way back into the game and eventually beat Dominic Thiem 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) to claim the ATP Finals crown.
This is his third title of the season, and it serves to bolster his burgeoning reputation as one of tennis’s next superstars. Fitting, then, that he reached the finals by defeating the behemoth who has lorded over Tennis for two decades - Roger Federer.
In his post-match interview, a breathless Tsitsipas was overwhelmed, "I can't sum up my emotions right now," he said. "It's amazing to be remembered as the 2019 champion. It is a dream come true and the best way to end this match.
"I did get nervous at some points in the match but I managed to forget about how I felt and I had momentum in the tie-break which was really tight.
"My fighting spirit and me constantly trying to push myself to do better got me there in the end."
As the two tie-break sets suggest, the match was hard-fought, with very little separating Tsitsipas and Thiem in the first and third sets. After narrowly losing the tie-break in the first set, Tsitsipas came roaring out of the gates to start the second and threw his opponent completely off his game, winning 12 of the first 14 points in the set. Thiem tried to rally, but the gap was too wide, and he surrendered the set to Tsitsipas 6-2.
The third set was again difficult, with Tsitsipas going 3-1 up and threatening to run away with the match, only for Thiem to break the next game and then hold his service game to tie things up at 3-3. From there, service held through to the tie-break, which was even at 4-4, before Tsitsipas broke Thiem’s serve, and then served out the match with relative ease.
For Thiem, the loss will be difficult to swallow, but comes in a year where he has won 5 titles, and also progressed to another French Open final. For Tsitsipas, this is simply the beginning of what should be a trophy-laden career.
In all, the future of tennis - beyond Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic - looks bright.