Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Dominic Thiem in a memorable contest to win the season-ending ATP Finals on Sunday as a decade of men’s tennis neared its conclusion.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated the sport for more than 15 years, but the London showpiece showcased the future of the game.
- Super Tsitsipas wins ATP Finals on debut
- Tsitsipas: I belong with Grand Slam champions
With just the revamped Davis Cup finals to come this week we look back at some of the most significant contests to have been played in the men’s game since 2010.
2012 Australian Open – Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal
To this day this match remains the longest Grand Slam final in history, lasting five hours and 53 minutes.
The match remains central to the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry – the most prolific of the Open Era – and it was Djokovic who triumphed to win his third successive Grand Slam at the time.
The Serbian fought back from a break down in the final set before he ripped off his shirt in celebration after a forehand winner sealed victory at 01:37 local time in Melbourne.
Djokovic said: “It was obvious on the court for everybody who has watched the match that both of us, physically, we took the last drop of energy that we had from our bodies, we made history tonight and unfortunately there couldn’t be two winners.”
2012 US Open – Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic
A historic sporting moment for British sport. After a 76-year wait for a men’s Grand Slam champion, Andy Murray emulated Fred Perry to win an epic US Open final.
In a near five-hour encounter, Murray, who had won Olympic Gold in London that summer, won his first Grand Slam – after defeat in his previous four major finals.
The late-night thriller in the Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows saw the Scot initially open a two-set lead over Djokovic, only to be taken the distance by the Serb.
Murray, who like his then-coach Ivan Lendl won a first Grand Slam at the fifth time of asking, was not to be deterred and recovered to end Djokovic’s 27-match winning run at the hard-court Grand Slams.
Murray said: “You have a bit of disbelief because when I have been in that position many times before and not won, you do think, is it ever going to happen?”
2013 Australian Open – Novak Djokovic vs Stan Wawrinka
A year on from his colossal battle of attrition against Nadal on the Rod Laver Arena and Djokovic was back on the very same court being pushed to his very limit. This time against Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round.
Djokovic was 6-1 5-2 behind against the Swiss but eventually came back to win a thrilling fifth set 12-10 to win an 18th successive match at Melbourne Park.
The Serb went on to become the first man to win three successive Australian Open titles in the professional era.
Asked to assess the victory against Wawrinka, Djokovic said: “It definitely ranks right at the top. One of the longest, most interesting, and most exciting matches I have played in my career.”
2013 French Open – Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic
This heavyweight semi-final meeting, between the two tournament favourites, did not disappoint.
Nadal, who had missed seven months with a serious knee injury since his victory at Roland Garros in 2012, outlasted the Serbian world No 1 in the latest incredible contest of this remarkable era.
Djokovic, who was targeting the one Grand Slam title eluding him at the time, broke Nadal when the Spaniard served for the match in the fourth as he went on to take the match to the distance.
Nadal then recovered from a 4-2 deficit in the fifth set to prove the stronger on Court Philippe Chatrier and reach the final, which he went on to win to land an eighth title in the French capital.
Djokovic, who went on to win the title in 2016 and complete the career Grand Slam, said: “It’s been an unbelievable match to be part of, but all I can feel now is disappointment.”
2013 Wimbledon – Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic
The most significant moment of Murray’s career to date? Hard to argue against this being the case.
Under immense pressure and roared on by a raucous home support on Centre Court, Murray ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s champion.
The victory over Djokovic was achieved in straight sets, yet the match was not without its drama. The final game, no less, was a nerve-shredding affair.
From 40-0, three match points were saved by the Serb, who appeared ready to ruin the party, only for Murray to seal his second Grand Slam title on an afternoon of scorching temperatures.
An incredulous Murray said: “Winning Wimbledon is the pinnacle of tennis. I worked so hard in that last game. It’s the hardest few points I’ve had to play in my life. Winning Wimbledon, I still can’t believe it.”
2014 Wimbledon – Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer
The first five-set final at Wimbledon since 2009.
Djokovic, who had lost his previous three Grand Slam finals, denied Federer a record eighth success to win a second title at the All England Club.
Just as in 2008, when Federer was beaten by Nadal on the same court, Federer succumbed in another classic.
Djokovic recovered from the disappointment of failing to capitalise on a championship point in the fourth set to be taken the distance only to withstand Federer’s fightback and land a seventh major.
Djokovic said: “This is the best tournament in the world and the one I always wanted to win so to be able to compete at such a high level I am so grateful.”
2016 Olympics – Andy Murray vs Juan Martin del Potro
Murray and Del Potro have played out some dramatic contests over the years.
Some will argue with whether tennis should be in the Olympics, but the will to win from both was unquestionable in Rio.
Murray demonstrated his innate resilience to win a four-set epic against the Argentine, whose past three seasons had been affected by a wrist injury.
Murray, who became the first player to win two Olympic singles titles, said: “Emotionally it was tough, physically it was hard. There were so many ups and downs in the match.”
2017 Australian Open – Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal
The final that everyone wanted to see provided a thrilling contest between two of the sport’s greats.
Federer beat his old rival Nadal in a Grand Slam for the first time since 2007 at Wimbledon, which saw him move to 18 Grand Slam titles and four clear of Nadal and Pete Sampras.
Nadal appeared to have swung the pendulum in his favour after he forced a final set and held an early break lead, only for Federer to edge the match after three hours and 37 minutes.
For Federer the win – his first major success since Wimbledon in 2012 – was made all the more sweeter after a knee injury which sidelined him for most of the 2016 campaign.
Federer said: “Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws, but if there was going to be one, I would have been happy to accept it and share it with Rafa.”
2018 Wimbledon – Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal
Djokovic and Nadal battled it out once again over five sets in a match which was played out across two days and under the Centre Court roof.
After a delayed start to their match, owing to the longest semi-final in Wimbledon history between Kevin Anderson and John Isner, Djokovic held a two sets to one advantage going into the second day.
Nadal broke twice in the fourth set on resumption to force a final set only for Djokovic, who was targeting a first Grand Slam title since 2016, edged a dramatic finale 10-8.
“There were moments of doubt, of frustration, disappointment, where you’re questioning whether you want to keep it going in this way or that way, where is that taking you,” Djokovic said.
2019 Wimbledon – Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer
Djokovic saved two championship points to defeat eight-time champion Federer in a final-set tie-break to win his 16th Grand Slam title.
The highly anticipated final promised excitement but what transpired was an epic, with the deciding set lasting more than two hours itself.