Daniil Medvedev claimed the biggest title of his career as he fought back from a set down to defeat Dominic Thiem in an absorbing climax to the ATP Finals.
World No.4 Medvedev prevailed 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to become the first player to beat each of top three ranked players in the season-ending championship – and only the fourth to do it at any tour event in the past 30 years.
The comeback against No.3 Thiem added to victories Medvedev produced against No.1 Novak Djokovic in the round-robin portion of the tournament and No.2 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.
Medvedev went 5-0 in London, quite a turnaround from a year ago, when he went 0-3 at the ATP Finals.
Fittingly Medvedev became the first Russian to win the title since Nikolay Davydenko, who won London’s first edition in 2009.
The tournament – played on an indoor hard court at the O2 Arena without spectators this time due to the coronavirus pandemic – moves to Turin, Italy, next year.
The 24-year-old Medvedev closed 2020 by going 10-0 in November to win the Paris Masters and ATP Finals – including seven wins against members of the Top 10.
He had zero victories over Top 10 opponents over the preceding 12 months.
On Sunday, Thiem saved the first eight break points he faced but Medvedev finally converted on his sixth break chance of the third set by sneaking forward behind a return, making a forehand volley winner and going up 3-2.
That was enough, because Medvedev never faced a break point the rest of the way.
“What a match. One of my best victories,” Medvedev said.
“Against an amazing player, Dominic. Congrats already for what you achieved in your career. Your name is already in the history of tennis.
“You won a grand slam this year, you’re playing unbelievable.
“I hope we’re going to have many more matches to come on the big occasions like this.”
A key shift came in the second-set tiebreaker, with a change in style from Medvedev.
Thiem had grabbed a 2-0 lead before Medvedev stormed back, using an element of surprise by rushing to the net more often than usual to reel off the next seven points.
Medvedev continued with that strategy to great effect in the final set.
It seemed to throw off Thiem, who had won three of the pair’s previous four matches, including in the semi-finals in New York in September en route to his maiden grand slam trophy.
“Daniil, really deserved, an amazing match. Congrats for another great year,” Thiem, who lost last year’s ATP final to Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, said.
“I hope we have many great matches to come. It was a pleasure today even though I lost.”
In the ATP Finals doubles, Dutch-Croatian duo Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic claimed their first title together by edging Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2 3-6 10-5.