Nitto ATP Finals: Daniil the giant killer and heartbreak for Thiem (again)

The Nitto ATP Finals and the 2020 ATP Tour season came to an end on Sunday with a tightly fought battle between Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem.

Medvedev ended a year struck with postponements and cancellations of many events due to the COVID-19 pandemic in fine form, coming back from a set down to beat Thiem 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4.

Daniil Medvedev’s 2020 Season

But the Russian’s success of the latter parts of 2019 is something that had been astray for the majority of this year.

The 24-year old went on an incredible run in 2019, reaching three finals, including the US Open where he lost to Rafael Nadal in five sets, and winning three titles in Cincinnati, St Petersburg and Shanghai.

He ended the year losing in the second round of the Paris Masters and all his round robin matches at the Nitto ATP Finals.

The Russian struggled to replicate that form in 2020, losing to Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round of the Australian Open, before early exits in Rotterdam and Marseille as the season came to a halt.


Upon the return of competition Medvedev’s best result was an exit in the semi-finals of the US Open and did not beat a top ten player for over 12 months.

That ended in his run in Paris, beating Diego Schwartzman en route to a straight sets victory over Alexander Zverev for the title.

His success in France translated over to The O2 in London where the Russian breezed past his round robin challenges of Zverev, world number one Novak Djokovic and Schwartzman.

Nadal served for a straights victory at 5-4 but Medvedev rallied back to win 6-3 in the third set for a place in the final against Thiem.

In beating the Austrian, Medvedev became the fourth person to beat the world’s top three at a single event.

“I think it was the toughest victory in my life because Dominic is a really tough player to play. I think today he was at his best,” he said (

“Maybe it’s not the case, but that’s what I felt during the match. He was really close to winning it [in the] second set. I managed to stay there.”

Dominic Thiem’s 2020 Season

Thiem’s 2020 was quite the contrary to Medvedev’s. He started the year reaching the Australian Open final, beating Gael Monfils, Nadal and Zverev on the way before falling in a tight fought five set battle to Djokovic in the final.

A loss in the quarter-finals of Rio befell the 27-year old before the stop to the season and upon the return a shaky loss in the first round of Cincinnati.

But The Austrian went on the capture the biggest title of his career, reaching his fourth Grand Slam final at the US Open, where he beat Medvedev in straight sets in the semi-final and overcame Zverev in a final set tie break to lift the trophy.

Thiem couldn’t replicate his previous runs to the final of the French Open, losing to Schwartzman in five sets in the quarter-finals and then losing in the same stage in Vienna to Andrey Rublev.

However, like in 2019, the world number three ended the year reaching the final in London, beating last years winner Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nadal in the round robin, only losing to Rublev once again.

The Austrian overcame Djokovic in the semi-final in three tight sets but despite being a set up in the final for the second year in a row, fell to Medvedev’s resilience and unusual style of play.

”Of course, I am disappointed, but at the same time I am also proud of the performance of all the week. Daniil really deserved it,” Thiem said.

“[It was an] amazing match. Congratulations for, in general, another great year. I think it was an amazing month [in] November, with [the] Bercy title and here and I hope we will have many great matches to come. It was a pleasure today, even though I lost.”

What next?

While both Medvedev and Thiem captured the biggest titles of their careers respectively in 2020 they will be looking ahead to the 2021 season which is currently scheduled to start on January 1 with the 24 National team event, the ATP Cup.

Just over two weeks later on January 18 the Australian Open is scheduled to begin and lead into the rest of the year.

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