Thiem or Medvedev, it doesn’t matter, the Masters will keep the taste of the new

The last of the Mohicans has fallen. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev eliminated in the first phase, Novak Djokovic was the only former Masters winner still in contention in this 2020 edition. The world number one having been beaten by Dominic Thiem on Saturday afternoon, the “ATP Finals “will therefore once again dedicate an unprecedented winner, whether it is the Austrian executioner of the world number one or Daniil Medvdev, who fell to Rafael Nadal in the evening during the second semi-final.

It’s a funny habit taken by the last big tournament of the year and what seemed to be an anomaly is no longer very far from turning into a major trend. While Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic had won eleven of the thirteen editions contested from 2003 to 2015, leaving only two beautiful crumbs to David Nalbandian (2005) and Nikolay Davydenko (2009), the Masters opened wide the doors of its prize list. Sunday evening, a strange five-year term will be completed with a fifth unprecedented winner in as many editions:

  • 2016: Andy Murray (Great Britain)
  • 2017: Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria)
  • 2018: Alexander Zverev (Allemagne)
  • 2019: Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece)
  • 2020: Daniil Medvedev (Russia) or Dominic Thiem (Austria)

Never in its history has the Masters been offered over such a long period to unprecedented winners. More remarkable still, for the past three years, the ATP Finals have dedicated a player who not only had never won a Grand Slam title, but who didn’t even have a major final on his CV. The case of Andy Murray differs in this sense from those of Dimitrov, Zverev and Tsitsipas.

Of course, the Masters’ half-century of existence is punctuated by “one shots”, often striking, from Michael Stich to David Nalbandian, including Alex Corretja, Gustavo Kuerten and Nikolay Davydenko. But such a succession of “novices” on the prize list is completely new. And if Medvedev is crowned, it will therefore be the 4th year in a row that the Masters has crowned a virgin Grand Slam champion. Or as much as 1990 to 2016:

  • 2009: Nikolay Davydenko
  • 2005: David Nalbandian
  • 1998: Alex Correa
  • 1990: Andre Agassi

For the two finalists, the impact of a victory will not be quite the same. By winning the US Open last September, Dominic Thiem relieved himself of an immense weight. He won’t play for the biggest title of his career on Sunday. Even if a new failure in the final in London would have something to upset him, especially since his ratio on the grand finals is not flattering for him (one victory, four defeats between the Grand Slams and the Masters).

For Daniil Medvedev, who lost his only grand final so far, in a memorable five-set duel at Flushing Meadows against Rafael Nadal in 2019, it would be the exclamation point of a career that took off for good a year and a half ago. On what he has shown both for eighteen months and in recent weeks, the Russian deserves to pin a title of this magnitude. But beating Thiem, now, is a challenge barely less complex than attacking Djokovic or Nadal.

Speaking of them, the Serbian and the Spaniard have one thing in common: they will both have been beaten by Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem this week in London. The final poster for this Sunday is therefore very logical. The winner of this Masters 2020 will again be unprecedented, but above all he will be indisputable.

Daniil Medvedev

Credit: Getty Images


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