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Ricky’s Preview and Pick for the Final of the Nitto ATP Tennis Finals: Dominic Thiem vs. Daniil Medvedev

“Dominic is amazing player…So I think it’s going to be great tennis tomorrow,” said Daniil Medvedev of facing US Open champion Dominic Thiem in the ATP Finals title match.

By Ricky Dimon

We came close to seeing the first all-Big 3 Nitto ATP Finals match for the first time since 2015. Instead, for the third time in the last four years it will be a Big-3-free conclusion to the tennis calendar.

Following respective semifinal thrillers against Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev will battle for the year-end championship trophy on Sunday evening. It is a second consecutive London final for Thiem, who lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in a third-set tiebreaker last fall.

Those kinds of three-set epics have been the norm for this event over the past two seasons. Thiem has now defeated Djokovic in third-set ‘breakers in each of the last two installments of this prestigious event after outlasting the world No. 1 7-5, 6-7(10), 7-6(5) on Saturday. The world No. 3 squandered four match points in the second set before recovering from a 4-0 deficit in the third-set tiebreaker. Thiem’s impressive week also includes an incredible 7-6(7), 7-6(4) win over Nadal, a three-set defeat of Tsitsipas, and a meaningless loss to Andrey Rublev.

Medvedev went 3-0 in round-robin competition (d. Alexander Zverev, Djokovic, and Diego Schwartzman) but appeared to be down and out against Nadal in the semis. The Spaniard served for the match at 5-4 in the second set only to see Medvedev storm back for a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory. Coming off a title at the Paris Masters, the world No. 4 has now won nine matches in a row.

He has lost three out of four lifetime against Thiem, however. They most recently faced each other in the U.S. Open semifinals, when the Austrian got the job done 6-2, 7-6(7), 7-6(5) on the eventual way to his first Grand Slam title.

“I think it’s super for tennis,” Medvedev said of a final against Thiem. “We are starting to [make] our marks. Dominic won his first slam. (He’s) playing unbelievable tennis right now. (It’s) not gonna be easy. Hopefully I can play good like [today]…. It’s great that we managed to beat the two most biggest players in the history of sport–except Roger is also there.”

Saturday’s semis could not have been any more tense and something similar should be in store for this one.

Dominic Thiem joins Andy Murray as just the second man to beat each of the Big 3 champions–Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer–five times.

“Especially in this tournament and in the deep stages of the slams, it’s like the one who has the better or luckier day ends up winning, and it was today the same,” Thiem assessed.

Medvedev’s luck came on a forehand shank winner at 4-3 in the second-set tiebreaker against Nadal. But he may not need any on Sunday. Although he almost lost in the semis, the 24-year-old has been the best player from start to finish this week. His run includes a 6-3, 6-3 destruction of Djokovic and some incredible mental strength to come back against Nadal. In the pressure moments, Medvedev is looking the most solid in terms of both his game and his composure.

Pick: Medvedev in 3

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com