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Medvedev tops Thiem in three sets to complete 5-0 run at ATP Finals
With his win, Medvedev becomes the first player to defeat the Top 3 players in the world rankings at the ATP Finals, and the first to do so at any tournament since 2007 (David Nalbandian, Madrid; and Djokovic, Montreal).
Published Nov 22, 2020
Below is a recap of the ATP Finals championship match, won by Daniil Medvedev over Dominic Thiem, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4. An additional report from Steve Tignor will follow.
THIRD SET—Medvedev wins 6-4: Above all, Daniil Medvedev held on.
He held serve every time he tossed the balls after the fifth game of the first set—a game he never should have lost.
He held strong when after wasn’t able to break Thiem’s serve at all in the second set, and after he lost two points to open the subsequent tiebreaker.
And he held his nerve after failing on his first break-point opportunities, a run of futility which stretched into the fifth game of the third set.
On his 10th break chance, Medvedev got the ball back in play—an issue on a number of his earlier misses. He came forward and struck a volley befitting a rec player. With recreational tennis currently prohibited in England due to the pandemic, perhaps it was a nod to the millions in the country who couldn’t legally swing a racquet.
No matter, though, as it was finally Thiem’s turn to blink while facing a break point. It didn’t seem likely, as the Austrian had plenty of time to put away a mid-court forehand—much like Medvedev had plenty of time to size up an overhead smash way back in the first set. Like Medvedev then, Thiem inexplicably missed now.
It wasn’t the kind of point that typically warrants a fist pump from the winner, but you can forgive Medvedev for that, considering the circumstances. He held on—and he held serve the rest of the way to win the ATP Finals in a 5-0 sweep.
With the win, Medvedev becomes the first player to defeat the Top 3 players in the world rankings at the ATP Finals, and the first to do so at any tournament since 2007 (David Nalbandian, Madrid; and Djokovic, Montreal).
SECOND SET—Medvedev wins 7-6 (2): Tennis journalist Jose Morgado tweeted this as Medvedev and Thiem, having just exchanged 12 service holds, reached a tiebreaker:
After Thiem took the first two points, those trends looked promising to continue. But the shot that turned things around wasn't a Medvedev make, but a Thiem miss. It wasn't an easy shot, but in 2020, Thiem has been making the difficult look routine. On this occasion, though, his running forehand pass attempt landed just long, giving Medvedev some much-needed breathing room. He played the next seven points—all of which he won—with a blend of confidence and comfort, moving like the man who dispatched both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on his way to this match—just as Thiem did.
At the same time, Thiem was his own worst enemy, unable to move Medvedev out of his newfound comfort zone and misfiring when pulling the trigger. Thiem seemed to be thinking too much—something that could surface should this final come down to a another tiebreak.
FIRST SET—Thiem wins, 6-4: It's safe to say that Medvedev and the net aren't getting along in today's ATP Finals championship match.
With a 40-0 lead at 2-2, the Russian donated two points with a pair of forehand misses. He seemingly atoned for it with a calculated sequence of strokes that put Thiem well behind the baseline, forcing the Austrian forced to hit a defensive lob. Medvedev moved forward, prepared to strike the sitter overhead to close out the game—and smashed the optic yellow sphere into the net.
Two points later, Medvedev double faulted, giving Thiem the first and what would be the only break of the first set.
It was one of the few stretches that Medvedev stumbled during a highly competitive opener. Medvedev won 80 percent of his first-serve points; Thiem wasn't far behind at 78. Both men used their sharply angled forehands to great effect, and powered through the indoor court when necessary. The set probably deserved a tiebreaker, but Medvedev was instead left to rue that mishap—and must now win two straight sets for the title.
It wasn't the only time the net wasn't kind to Medvedev. On set point, Medvedev approached forward as Thiem moved to his right. Only a delicate forehand pass would be enough—or, an incredibly fortunate net cord.
That's what happened, as Thiem's ball grazed the net, then hopped over Medvedev's racquet. It never caught the ball it was waiting for.