They featured in the title clash last year and will set the ball rolling at the Tour Finals this year.
Ahead of the tournament opener at London’s O2 Arena, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas looked back at last year’s final, which stood out in some ways.
For one, it was a rare final not featuring any of the game’s ‘Big Three’ – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Secondly, Tsitsipas, who won the Tour Finals last year, was also the youngest to claim the championship trophy in eighteen years.
A year on, the reigning US Open champion and the World Number 5 are happy to renew their rivalry in the first round-robin clash on Sunday evening.
Reliving his straight set loss to Tsitsipas, Thiem said last year’s final in London remains special.
“I think the final was special in many ways. It’s my personal opinion and that of many people I heard that it was the match with the best atmosphere. (It was) one of the best matches, I guess, with no member of the ‘Big Three’ included,” the Austrian said.
Thiem said though the Tour Finals didn’t end well for him, he does have rosy memories of the title clash last year.
“It was a great, great evening for tennis in general . It ended the wrong way for me but still it was a great experience. I love to remember it,” Thiem, currently third in the rankings, said.
For Tsitsipas, who won the Tour Finals title 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, it was about playing his best tennis.
“I had to bring out my most aggressive tennis and defend well against his (Thiem’s) fast and strong shots,” Tsitsipas said.
“Having to deal with his forehand is not easy,” the Greek said, underlining how tough it was to get the better of the Austrian.
On his chances this year, Thiem said, “I’ll try to remember last year, try to use that experience. I did great last year. It was one the best weeks, best tournaments I’ve ever played in my life.”
On the Sunday showdown with the long-haired Greek, Thiem said, “I’ll try to put in some good work at practice and be there hundred percent on Sunday afternoon.”
On his title win last year, Tsitsipas said, “ It’d definitely rank among the most difficult matches I’ve ever played. That feeling at the end was just phenomenal. There was so much adrenaline, I couldn’t sleep many nights after that.”
Expect the young guns to pick up from where they left off as the chair umpire signals ‘play’ on Sunday.