It was a thrilling encounter to cap off a stunning week of tennis, with both players having unquestionably earned their spots in the final.
Thiem opened his account at the O2 Arena by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in a back-and-forth three-set contest to avenge his loss in last year's final, before overcoming world No 2 Rafael Nadal in two tight sets. While the Austrian could afford his subsequent defeat by Andrey Rublev, he rediscovered his best tennis in the semi-finals, outlasting world No 1 Novak Djokovic in a marathon match.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old Medvedev also defeated Nadal and five-time Finals champion Djokovic, seeing off the Serb easily in the round-robin phase – in between further straight-sets victories over 2018 winner Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman – and fighting from behind to get past Nadal in three sets in Saturday’s other semi-final.
And the Russian presented last year’s runner-up Thiem with some early adversity on Sunday, forcing the Austrian to fend off two break points in his first service game of the evening – a lengthy frame that Thiem ultimately claimed.
The set then followed serve until Thiem earned his first break opportunity of the final, the world No 3 clinically taking it to move into a 2-3 lead.
He held serve to extend his advantage, and while Medvedev regained his composure – demonstrating as much with a hold to love for 4-5 – the damage was already done, and the world No 4 ultimately gave up the set 4-6 after 49 minutes on court.
In the second set, it was Medvedev’s turn to endure an arduous service game, saving break point en route to holding for 3-2. It was deja vu two games later, with the Russian this time saving two break points in another long hold. He responded well by putting Thiem under pressure, the US Open champion this time the one to save break point before holding for 4-4.
The pair traded further holds to set up a tiebreak, and – after Thiem started brightly to gain a 0-2 lead – Medvedev hit his nineteenth winner of the set as he impressively reeled off seven straight points to force a decider.
The second set had lasted just over an hour, but neither competitor was prepared to lay down; Medvedev quickly reached deuce on Thiem’s serve in the opening game of the final set, with the Austrian then offering respectable resistance as the Russian served. Medvedev, finalist at the 2019 US Open, almost went one further just moments later, earning three break points but failing to convert. He sustained his momentum, however, by holding to love immediately thereafter.
Again Thiem was faced with a mammoth task on serve as he saved two break points in a long game, but this time the 27-year-old could not stay resolute, Medvedev finally breaking his opponent for the first time in the match.
A hold put Medvedev 4-2 up and within reach of the biggest title of his career so far, though Thiem replied with a hold to love to steady himself momentarily. Medvedev almost mockingly replicated the feat, however, to move to 5-3.
Two games later, the match was sealed, Medvedev emerging a 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4 victor in the final edition of the season-ending tournament to take place in the English capital.
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