World no. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas clinched his first major trophy as he beat world no. 5 Dominic Thiem in a three-set thriller 6-7 6-2 7-6. Neither player had a won a tournament of this caliber before, but the Austrian has been a Roland Garros finalist for the past two consecutive years so was arguably more familiar to playing finals on a big stage.
The final, which lasted 2 hours and 35 minutes, sees the 21-year-old lift the biggest title of his young career. It was a match where momentum shifted like a seesaw between the two finalists. The Austrian took the first set in a nail-biting tiebreak. But somehow found himself a double break down in the second set before the Greek closed out the second set 6-2.
The third set was a similar story, the Austrian was broken early on and the Tsitsipas had a strong 3-1 lead in the deciding set to win the title. But Tsitsipas somehow found himself twice serving to stay in the championship as Thiem upped the intensity of his own level. The tension at the O2 could be felt at every part of the arena. The 18,000 spectators knew a third set tiebreak was due to happen and it could go either way.
It was a close tiebreak as Tsitsipas was 4-1 ahead, but somehow the 26-year-old Austrian managed to claw his way back to 4-4. A few errors from Thiem gave Tsitsipas two championship points. And at the first time of asking, the Greek hit a first serve in which the Austrian hit wide. Game. Set. Match.
“Now that I’m a champion, I don’t know how to explain it. I honestly don’t feel anything, because it’s too many emotions to feel something (smiling). So it’s horrific, in a way, to be holding this trophy.” said Tsitsipas.
The crowd at the O2 seemed to be a rather 50/50 split between the two players. Both the Greek and Austrian fans came out in full colors as they cheered on their respective players whenever they won a point. Loud chants of “TSIT-SI-PAS” and “DO-MI-NIC” could be heard loudly across the arena.
“I really loved the support all week long. It’s also something a little bit new for me to be a little bit in favor of the crowd. Because if you play these big tournaments against the other Big 3 or Big 4, you are somehow always the underdog in the crowd.” said Thiem.
Tsitsipas, 21, has already won two titles this year. But by far this is the biggest on his career, after winning three ATP 250 titles so far.
“I feel like my game is getting better over time. And I believe I’m really close on being crowned a Grand Slam champion. I know these are strong words that I say. But I do feel like I belong to be there.” said the Greek.
“I’m competing against one of the best players in the world. And the amount of effort and the amount of work I put every day deserves to have an outcome like this.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas Main Photo: