Tsitsipas’ star continues to rise with ATP Finals success
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.”