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Tsitsipas beats Thiem in 3 sets to win ATP Finals title

Updated: 2019-11-18 08:54

LONDON — Three years after coming to the ATP Finals as a hitting partner to the top pros, Stefanos Tsitsipas is leaving the tournament as champion.

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas talks to the crowd after winning his final match against Austria's Dominic Thiem at the ATP Finals in the O2, London, Britain, November 17, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Tsitsipas rallied to beat Dominic Thiem 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (4) on Sunday for the biggest title of his career, becoming the youngest champion at the season-ending event in 18 years.

“I remember myself watching this event on TV and thinking, ‘Oh, these guys have done an insane year to be playing here,’” said the 21-year-old Tsitsipas, who was making his first appearance at the tournament. ”And now I'm in the position to be champion, so it feels awesome.” It’s been quite a journey for Tsitsipas, who first met Thiem at the O2 Arena in 2016 when he was the world’s top-ranked junior and was invited to be a hitting partner for the ATP Finals participants.

”That is unbelievable," Tsitsipas said when reminded of that day. "I just remembered (that), first time I met Dominic was I came here as a sparring partner. I think my first hit was with Dominic. It's unbelievable, isn't it? We are now facing each other in the final.” It was quite a final, too.

The 21-year-old Greek bounced back from dropping a tight first set by racing out to a 4-0 lead in the second, and then held off the Austrian’s comeback in the third.

Tsitsipas couldn’t capitalize on another early break and a 3-1 lead in the deciding set but won the last three points of the tiebreaker, clinching the win when Thiem sent a return wide.

”I missed some very close balls in the tiebreak,” Thiem said. ”But I cannot do anything now about it. It was a great match from both of us.” The win caps a breakthrough season for Tsitsipas, who reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, won two ATP titles and became the first Greek man to break into the top 10.

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