ATP Finals – Forget the Big 3, Thiem and Medvedev deserved to compete for the Grail

The context

On paper, we couldn’t dream of a better poster to end the year than a top meeting between the two best players in the world. But the reality on the ground has shown something else since the opening of this 2020 edition just a week ago. Undoubtedly, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev were the strongest and most consistent men in excellence throughout the tournament. So there won’t be a 57th Djokovic-Nadal on Sunday, but it might not be worse.

Because the two finalists have shown that they can produce an equally attractive tennis this week, if not more. Let’s take Medvedev first. If he had reached the last four of the US Open when the season resumed last August, he said to himself, still a few weeks ago, overall disappointed with his general level that he could not help but compare to that of his 6 finals in a row in summer 2019. But his title at Bercy changed everything. Again in his bubble, the Russian confirmed his newfound confidence in London. The only undefeated player in the tournament, his immense service and solidity in the exchange have made him a scarecrow who has put words into action.

For Dominic Thiem, 2020 will be whatever happens a pivotal year since it will have marked his “deflower” in Grand Slam. After three finals lost at Roland Garros (2018, 2019) and the Australian Open (2020), he won his first Major in the exceptional circumstances related to the coronavirus at Flushing Meadows. This coronation and his final in Melbourne make him, undoubtedly, one of the main protagonists of this truncated year. He would become the most remarkable actor (even ahead of the world number 1) if he won the Masters tournament. One thing is certain: Thiem like Medvedev have been able to adapt perfectly to the camera since they both triumphed in these conditions.

Face to face

  • The rivalry between the two men has only 4 precedents and Thiem leads 3-1. Medvedev had his only success (very dry in fact in the 6-3, 6-1 quarter-finals) in Montreal during his famous summer of 2019.
  • The Austrian also triumphed in their last duel in the semi-finals of the US Open (6-2, 7-6, 7-6).
  • They only met once indoors in St. Petersburg two years ago. Thiem had won again, but the match was extremely tight (6-2, 3-6, 7-6).

Their journey

1st group match: beats Stéfanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3
2nd group match: beats Rafael Nadal 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4)
3rd group match: beaten by Andrey Rublev 6-2, 7-5
Demi-final: bat Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5)

1st group match: bat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4
2nd group match: bat Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-3
3e match de poule : bat Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3
Semi-final: beats Rafael Nadal 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3

They said

Dominic Thiem : Of course, I will do everything to win the title. It will be the last game of a very special year, very hard for everyone. We will try to produce the best show for everyone who watches us.”

Daniil Medvedev: After our semi-final of the US Open, I returned to the locker room thinking I had played well. It was a close match, except the first set where he destroyed me. I had served to win the second and third sets. It’s probably easier to conclude on your service here, indoors.”

Three stats to remember

2. By defeating Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Saturday, Dominic Thiem became the 2nd player to beat every Big 3 member Federer-Nadal-Djokovic at least 5 times. Andy Murray is the only one to have done it before him. Are we heading towards a new Big 4?

4. Daniil Medvedev is the 4th player to qualify for the final one year after leaving the Masters empty-handed. And he is in good company since Andre Agassi in 1990, Novak Djokovic in 2008 and Rafael Nadal in 2010 are his three predecessors.

100 %. Dominic Thiem has won all the tie-breaks he played previously against Daniil Medvedev (3/3). When we know the difficulty of seizing the opponent’s throw-in indoors, this observation could be important in the final.

Our opinion

For the 5th consecutive edition, the Masters will therefore crown a new champion. The stakes will be high and the tension will be there despite the absence of the public. Both knockers of two of the three monsters of the circuit, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev will not lack confidence when they appear one last time in the O2 Arena in London, before the event is transferred to Turin next year. . Their rivalry is not yet strong enough to draw a real trend in the balance of power, so there is no obvious psychological advantage before this match.

However, several elements seem to work in favor of the Austrian. Already a finalist last year, beaten in extremis by Stéfanos Tsitsipas, he will already have the advantage of experience, which could be important in the management of the event. He will also have had more time to recover. The two men spent roughly the same time on the court in the semi-final (2h54 for Thiem against 2h35 for Medvedev), but while one began to recover at around 6 p.m. (French time), the other started it. a little before midnight. These 6 hours of difference could weigh in the balance if the final were to last.

Nonetheless, Medvedev has very striking strengths indoors, as he proved at Bercy. His high first ball percentage should allow him to obtain a good number of free points and his blocking qualities could neutralize the opposing power. By overthrowing Nadal, whom he had never dominated until then, the Russian may have yet taken a mental step forward, one that will allow him to approach the match with supreme confidence. Thiem, for his part, confessed to having been overtaken by stress during the second set tie-break against Djokovic. Already crowned in a Grand Slam this year, he seems to have less to lose than his opponent, but the reality is perhaps more complex. We expect a close game for which we nevertheless give favorite Thiem a short header.

Our prognosis: Dominic Thiem in 3 sets.

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