Tsit­si­pas’ star con­tin­ues to rise with ATP Fi­nals suc­cess

Evening Times - - SPORT -

STEFANOS TSIT­SI­PAS came of age at Lon­don’s 02 Arena with a stun­ning vic­tory over Do­minic Thiem to win the ATP Fi­nals.

The 21-year-old from Athens be­came the youngest win­ner of the pres­ti­gious sea­son-end­ing tour­na­ment since Lley­ton He­witt in 2001, and the youngest debu­tant to lift the tro­phy since John McEn­roe back in 1978.

Just a year af­ter win­ning the Nex­tGen Fi­nals, for play­ers of 21 and un­der, Tsit­si­pas mixed it with the very best on the bank of the Thames and came out on top.

Con­grat­u­lated by his coun­try’s prime min­is­ter Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis af­ter his semi-fi­nal win over Switzer­land’s Roger Fed­erer, Tsit­si­pas went on to write his name in Greek sport­ing mythol­ogy with a 6-7 (6) 6-2 7-6 (4) vic­tory.

It was only the third time in 16 years that the fi­nal did not fea­ture at least one of the ‘big three’ – Rafael Nadal, No­vak Djokovic or Fed­erer – and fur­ther ev­i­dence surely that the long-awaited power shift in men’s ten­nis is fi­nally on the way.

At 26, Thiem is just about part of that youth­ful scene as well and his no­table wins over Fed­erer and Djokovic this week helped him climb to fourth in the world rank­ings.

But the fi­nal be­longed to Tsit­si­pas and the le­gions of Greek fans who made the 02 feel like a home from home for the new cham­pion.

The two are close friends on the Tour – Tsit­si­pas even acted as Thiem’s hit­ting part­ner at the 2016 edi­tion of the tour­na­ment – and they em­braced at the net af­ter a gru­elling en­counter in the English cap­i­tal.

Tsit­si­pas said: “I was play­ing with nerves, it’s such a big event. I was a break up in the third set, but I couldn’t hold it.

“I’m so re­lieved with this out­stand­ing per­for­mance I gave on the court.

“It’s phe­nom­e­nal, un­be­liev­able to have such an army be­hind me, they give me en­ergy, and be­lief, and I just love that.

“I would like to thank ev­ery­one who sup­ported me with a Greek flags and made me feel at home.”

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