Stefanos Tsitsipas confirmed his meteoric rise into the highest echelon of men's tennis by battling back to beat Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-7 (6) 6-2 7-6 (4) in a compelling title duel at the ATP Finals on Sunday.
"He's great for tennis, because he has a very attractive game style, one-handed backhand, comes in a lot", Thiem said.
The Athens native, who won the New Generation ATP Finals previous year in Milan and lost only one match during the tourney (to Spain's Rafael Nadal during the group phase), recovered vigorously after losing the first set on a tiebreak, ultimately defeating Thiem in two hours and 35 minutes, reports Efe news. Tsitsipas paid tribute afterwards to them for their "amazing" support.
"They give me so much energy and so much belief", he said.
The final brought a fitting climax to the ATP season, with both men attacking at every opportunity and demonstrating their power, athleticism and coolness under pressure.
Thiem was rocking again at the start of the deciding set. Tsitsipas' response, however, was stunning. Tsitsipas saved one set point with an athletic volley but then offered up another chance which Thiem took by landing a powerful first serve.
Tsitsipas held easily and then produced a forehand down the line to break again, with Thiem threatening to unravel. It is a dream come true and the best way to end this match.
The Greek, 21, beat Dominic Thiem on Sunday to become the youngest victor of the season finale since 2001, with six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker declaring "a superstar is born".
And the lavishly gifted but inconsistent Grigor Dimitrov has not won a tournament since his 2017 success at the season finale.
Alexander Zverev enjoyed his finest moment here in 2018, beating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in successive matches to claim the title, but the 22-year-old German has won only one minor title this year.
There was little to choose between sixth-seed Tsitsipas and Austria's world number five Thiem in the first set as a total of five break points went begging.
"It was time because Federer is 38 years old and Rafa 33".
Unlike the lost generation of players such as Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic who never won a Grand Slam, the young guns are not afraid of the old guard.
Asked when they would finally make the breakthrough, he said: "For the young guys, it's all about time". The last time anyone outside the "Big Three" won any Grand Slam title was in 2016, when Stan Wawrinka took the US Open. Wawrinka is back up to No.16 in the rankings after knee trouble, while Andy Murray, continuing his comeback after hip surgery, won his first title for two-and-a-half years in Antwerp last month.
Tsitsipas, whose semi-final appearance at this year's Australian Open remains the furthest he has progressed at a Slam, admitted that the new wave, including French Open finalist Thiem, Zverev and US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev, might have to play the waiting game just a bit longer.
Losing finalist Dominic Thiem, last year's champion Alex Zverev, US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev and NY semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini all lit up the stage in London.
Thiem has been the second best clay-court player behind Nadal for the last three years but has shown he can excel on hard courts.