Read & Watch: Thiem Holds Off Tsitsipas For Fourth Title Of 2019
Dominic Thiem weathered some of Stefanos Tsitsipas' best tennis on Sunday to win his fourth title of the season 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 and further pad his hard-court resume at the China Open in Beijing.
Thiem, who qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals by reaching the ATP 500 final, broke in the 10th game of the second set to wrestle momentum away for good against the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion, who was going for his first ATP 500 crown.
Thiem was too locked in during the deciding set, and the Austrian, who also beat Roger Federer for the BNP Paribas Open title in March, won his second hard-court title in a season for the first time in his career. The win, which gives Thiem 15 ATP Tour titles, also marks only the second time in his career that he has won four championships in a single year (2016). Thiem matches Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal as the ATP Tour title leaders in 2019.
2019 ATP Tour Title Leaders
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“It feels great because today was for me one of the best matches I've played in my life. Game style wise and also how I came back, it's definitely one of my biggest titles because the tournament is so strong, the draw was so strong. Makes me very happy that I stand as the champion at the end of the week,” Thiem said.
Tsitsipas and Thiem faced off five times last year (Thiem led FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-2) and endured bruising baseline battles during their three clay-court matchups. But Sunday's final was nearly the opposite as both were keen to attack from the back of the court and charge forward, even serving and volleying on big points.
They combined for 58 net points, (Thiem: 17/25; Tsitsipas: 19/33), and the final featured more than a few cat-and-mouse points at net that had the Beijing crowd roaring.
“I think today I never went so much to the net in one match before. It's the right thing to do. I think it's very important to shorten up points, to finish points at the net,” Thiem said.
Tsitsipas broke in the eighth game of the opener before serving it out. The two, after trading breaks early in the second, were on serve until the eighth game when Thiem erased three break points that would have given Tsitsipas a chance to serve out the match.
But instead, the Greek was down 4-5, 30/40, and a Thiem backhand pass clipped the net and landed in, evening the final for the Austrian. Tsitsipas never recovered. From 4-4 in the second to 5-0 in the third, Thiem won seven straight games and eventually served out the final.
“I was so close. Literally one point from getting a break, serving for the championship. I just did the wrong thing. I went back, wanted to take some time, in which he played smart. He serve and volleyed,” Tsitsipas said.
The 21-year-old Tsitsipas was looking to add to his ATP Race To London tally with the third title of his season. But the Greek, with 3,370 points, is still currently in sixth place in the Race and next in line to qualify after the fifth-placed Thiem secured his spot on Saturday. The top eight in the Race will compete at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 10-17 November at The O2 in London.
“It's my first good tournament after a while. I just need to stay concentrated and not think too big of myself this week,” said Tsitsipas, who had lost five of his past six matches before Beijing. “But I have more tournaments to play. Doing well there, too, would prove that I can be consistent.”
Tsitsipas will receive 300 ATP Rankings points and $364,615 in prize money. Thiem earns 500 ATP Rankings points and $733,790 in prize money.
Did You Know?
Thiem picked up his first Top 10 victory since beating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in June during the Roland Garros semi-finals.