Top seed Dominic Thiem was beaten in straight sets in the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships by Lloyd Harris.

The reigning US Open champion, given a bye for the first round, lost 6-3 6-4 to his South African opponent, who sits 77 places further down the ATP rankings.

The Austrian has endured a difficult start to 2021. He lost in straight sets to Grigor Dimitrov in the last 16 of the Australian Open and was beaten by Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter-finals in Doha.

It was a first win over a top-five player for Harris, who was not once taken to deuce on serve during their 72 minutes on court.

"I'm super, super happy with that win. [He is] by far the highest-ranked player I have beat," said Harris. "I look up to Domi a lot so, for me, it is a special feeling. I am really happy. Just the fact that I am playing good tennis, match in, match out now is giving me a lot of confidence.

"I was serving really well. I don't think I faced any break points. I took control of those games and [in] one or two games on his serve, I gave myself a good look. I played some of the important points very well. I am very proud of that."

While Thiem is struggling for form, things are looking far better for Andrey Rublev, who beat Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4 6-4 to stretch his winning streak at ATP 500 events to 21 matches.

The world number eight, who will face Taylor Fritz in the next round, equalled Andy Murray for the second-best winning run at this level of the Tour. Roger Federer (28) holds the record.

Third seed Denis Shapovalov beat Jan-Lennard Struff for the loss of just four games, while Bautista-Agut advanced after opponent Matthew Ebden retired in the first set.

Fifth seed David Goffin was beaten in straight sets by Kei Nishikori, who recorded just his third victory of the year.

Karen Khachanov and Jannik Sinner each advanced after three-setters, while Marton Fucsovics and Aslan Karatsev were also taken the distance before progressing.

Hubert Hurkacz, Lorenzo Sonego, Dusan Lajovic, Aljaz Bedene and Filip Krajinovic also won on Tuesday.

A "tired" Roger Federer was "incredibly happy" to mark his long-awaited return with a battling victory over Dan Evans in the second round of the Qatar Open.

Swiss legend Federer had been out of action for 14 months after undergoing knee surgery, but he was back in business with a 7-6 (10-8) 3-6 7-5 win over Briton Evans.

The 20-time grand slam champion had spent a lot of time practicing with Evans in recent weeks before making his comeback and they spent another two hours and 24 minutes on court in a tight tussle on Wednesday.

Federer was delighted to be back after such a lengthy absence and the 39-year-old's next test will come against Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarter-finals in Doha.

He said: "I was tired, I was more focused on being tired than winning the points. If I was going to go out, I was going to go out swinging. Dan had more energy left at the end but I was serving well and I thought I played a really good match. I'm incredibly happy about my performance.

"It was a pleasure to share the court with Dan and always nice to finish off with a backhand down the line on match point. The important think is how I feel tomorrow and the next day and so forth for the next six months.

"It's been a long and tough road for me. I enjoyed it though, it's been a huge challenge in my tennis career."

Top seed Dominic Thiem earlier needed three sets to defeat wildcard Aslan Karatsev 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2, while the in-form Andrey Rublev was given a walkover after Richard Gasquet withdrew due to a leg injury.

Denis Shapovalov beat Vasek Pospisil in an all-Canadian encounter, while Roberto Bautista Agut was among the other winners.

Karen Khachanov reached the quarter-finals of the Open 13 Provence with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win over Mackenzie McDonald, while Jannik Sinner ousted Hugo Gaston in straight sets.

Cameron Norrie, Matthew Ebden and Egor Gerasimov were also victorious in Marseille.

Dominic Thiem is relishing Roger Federer's return to action, with the duo taking part in this week's Qatar Open.

Federer has spent the last 13 months out, having elected to take 2020 off – following last year's Australian Open – to undergo two knee operations.

The 40-year-old will compete in Doha this week, returning to play in an event where he has enjoyed plenty of success down the years, winning the tournament three times.

Last year's US Open champion Thiem, who has moved above Federer in the world rankings during the Swiss' absence, will also be in action in Qatar, and is thrilled to see the 20-time grand slam winner make his comeback.

"We are rivals, and of course we want to beat each other in the tournament, [but] I still really love to watch him play tennis," said top seed Thiem, who was speaking to Laureus Sport after his nomination for Breakthrough of the Year.

"[He] looks so nice, the way he plays, the way he approaches the game of tennis.

"On the one hand, I'm also a big fan of his still, and that's why I really love that he's back and that I can watch him again. That's what pretty much everybody is thinking, and I hope that he's coming back strong, as well."

Federer and Thiem have met seven times, with the Austrian holding the advantage, with five wins to his name against the former world number one.

Thiem, a semi-finalist in Doha in 2018, has not played since he lost to Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open in mid-February, and the world number four is hoping to make a fast start when he takes on Aslan Karatsev in round two.

"The [Doha] draw is unbelievably strong, so [you] never know what's [going to] happen, but I just try to have a good start and to be there on a good level from the very first point," said Thiem.

"It's going to be my first tournament and [my] first match [in almost] a month, since [a] pretty devastating loss at the Australian Open.

"I needed some time to digest everything, to analyse everything [and] to settle down a little bit. Now it's time to focus on new things. The tournament in Doha is the first chance to play better again, to get good results, to get confidence and to forget a pretty tough start of the season."

Dominic Thiem's bid to reach back-to-back Australian Open finals was dashed by Grigor Dimitrov as the US Open champion surprisingly crashed out in the round of 16.

Thiem lost a thrilling final to Novak Djokovic in last year's Melbourne Park decider before breaking through for his maiden grand slam title at Flushing Meadows later in 2020.

But Thiem failed to secure another second-week berth in Melbourne, where the third seed was stunned 6-4 6-4 6-0 by former world number three Dimitrov on Sunday.

Thiem was aiming to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals for the second time and become the second Austrian man to feature in the quarters in Melbourne on multiple occasions after Thomas Muster (1989, 1994 and 1997).

The 27-year-old Thiem was also bidding to reach his ninth slam quarter-final and equal Muster's record for most major last-eight appearances by any Austrian – male or female.

However, Thiem – who rallied from two-sets-to-love down to top Nick Kyrgios in the previous round – was no match for Dimitrov behind closed doors on Rod Laver Arena amid a coronavirus lockdown in Victoria.

Both players hit 25 winners, but Dimitrov only tallied 18 unforced errors to Thiem's 41 following just over two hours on court.

Dimitrov progressed to his fourth Australian Open quarter-final, extending his record for most last-eight appearances at Melbourne Park by a Bulgarian player – man or woman.

An Australian Open semi-finalist in 2017, Dimitrov will now contest his sixth grand slam quarter-final – the 29-year-old is third for most quarter-final appearances by a Bulgarian player, behind Manuela Maleeva (nine) and Katerina Maleeva (seven).

Dominic Thiem came from behind to edge Nick Kyrgios in a five-set epic in the Australian Open third round on Friday.

Thiem, last year's runner-up in Melbourne, fought back to win 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 on John Cain Arena.

The Austrian third seed was unable to match Kyrgios' energy levels early on, but the reigning US Open champion responded to reach the fourth round of a major for the 15th time in his career.

Thiem, who will face Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round, was in impressive form after his slow start, finishing with 57 winners and just 28 unforced errors.

Kyrgios was getting the crowd – full of energy ahead of Victoria going into a five-day lockdown from Saturday due to coronavirus concerns – involved from the warm-up, while Thiem appeared flat.

An underarm ace saw Kyrgios take a two-sets-to-love lead as he looked in control before Thiem responded.

Coming from 15-40 down in the opening game of the third set, Thiem won 20 consecutive points on serve.

Kyrgios steadied and held after a marathon game to begin the fourth set, but he could not deny Thiem – who continued to hold serve comfortably – in the ninth as the Austrian broke with a cross-court forehand pass.

A point penalty for ball abuse appeared to bring Kyrgios to life, but Thiem saved a break point and served out the set.

The crucial and only break of the fifth set came for Thiem in the seventh game after several fine returns and he closed out his victory with a spectacular backhand winner down the line.

Nick Kyrgios has the weapons to overcome the "super physical" Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open on Friday.

The eccentric Australian continued to excite at Melbourne Park with a five-set win over Ugo Humbert in the second round, saving two match points.

Kyrgios, 25, is into the third round of a grand slam for the 15th time in his career, but it has been a difficult hurdle for him to cross. He is 6-8 in the third round of majors, although three of those wins – and just one loss – have come at the Australian Open.

While he has all the weapons, Kyrgios faces third seed Thiem, the US Open champion and last year's runner-up in Melbourne.

"He's probably one of the most physical guys on tour. He's an extremely good player. I have actually seen him progress. He's a bit older than I am. I actually saw him in juniors and then I saw him struggle for a couple years, futures, challies, and then to see him get to the top of the game. It's been actually pretty cool to see him develop and finally find what he needs to do to win matches," Kyrgios said about Thiem after overcoming Humbert.

"He trains like an absolute animal. He's consistent every day. And I actually have a lot of respect for him. I think his style of tennis is not easy to play. He's super physical, but I'm not even thinking about it. Like, I'm just hurting thinking about playing him right now."

He added: "Whatever happens against Thiem happens. I'm going to go out there, serve, play with instinct, and if it's enough, it's enough. If it isn't, I'm all right with that."

With much of the talk at the year's first major focused on the fast courts, Kyrgios' serve will be vital.

The Australian has seen 50 per cent of his first serves in the opening two rounds go unreturned, with 44 aces. He has also served at 72 per cent and won 81 per cent of the points when his first serve has gone in.

Thiem has recorded wins over Mikhail Kukushkin and Dominik Koepfer to begin the tournament, winning 13 of 27 return games. Kyrgios has won eight of 42 return games.

Kyrgios has been among the men more willing to serve and volley to begin the event, playing 26 such points and winning 16. He has also won 39 of 55 net points, while Thiem is an impressive 31 of 36.

Novak Djokovic is among those who have talked about the fast courts at Melbourne Park this year, and the world number one said that would suit the big servers. Thiem said he had never played on courts as fast at a grand slam so far in his career.

"I prefer last year's courts, if I could choose. It's pretty fast, as I said the days before. It's probably one of the fastest grand slam tournaments I've played so far," he said. "Well, we have to get used to it, yes. But if I have to choose, I would choose the last year's condition."

The opportunity is there for the big-hitting Kyrgios, but he will need to be at his best.

Novak Djokovic admitted there was plenty of room for improvement after coming through a "difficult spot" at the Australian Open, where Nick Kyrgios thrilled the crowd with an impressive comeback.

Top seed Djokovic was made to work for his 6-3 6-7 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 triumph against Frances Tiafoe as he reached the third round in Melbourne. 

Kyrgios is also through, albeit he even surprised himself by rallying from the brink of defeat to knock out 29th seed Ugo Humbert in the evening session. 

Stan Wawrinka was on the wrong of an upset on Wednesday, but there were no such problems for fellow seeds Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic. 

Meanwhile, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime will have to put their friendship to one side when they face each other next, the former setting up the all-Canadian clash by beating Bernard Tomic in three sets.


'PASSIVE' DJOKOVIC STILL MAKING PROGRESS

In the first meeting between the pair, the impressive Tiafoe went toe-to-toe with Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena.  

The 23-year-old American's performance – coupled with the Melbourne heat – made the eight-time Australian Open champion sweat, albeit Djokovic felt he could have made life easier for himself.

"I was at times not feeling my timing as well as I normally am. Credit to him. I think he has managed to come out with a great performance and quality of tennis. He put me in a difficult spot," he said. 

"I had my chances early in the second set. If I broke him there, maybe the course of the match would be different.   

"But again, he was holding his serve very well. I was not really using my break-point chances very well. At times I was too passive. Just wasn't feeling the ball today as well as I normally do." 

Next up for Djokovic is another player from the United States in the form of Taylor Fritz, who ousted compatriot Reilly Opelka in a five-set battle.


IN THE NICK OF TIME

Kyrgios described his clash with Humbert as "one of the craziest matches I've ever played" after prevailing 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 - much to the delight of an enthralled audience who watched the drama unfold on John Cain Arena.

The Australian smashed a racket, lost his cool with umpire Marijana Veljovic over a faulty net cord sensor and had to save a pair of match points before eventually coming out on top in a see-saw battle.

"I just remember, down that end, when I was a couple of match points down, I don't know what was going on," Kyrgios - who dropped to his knees after sealing victory - said in his on-court interview.

"If you were inside my head, there were some dark thoughts in there. But I live to fight another day and hopefully I can continue to play good tennis in front of you guys."

His reward is a clash with Thiem, the third seed having dismissed the challenge of German Dominik Koepfer in straight sets as he dropped just six games.


STAN-D AND DELIVER

Wawrinka appeared on course to survive a serious scare when he rallied from two sets down against Marton Fucsovics, but the Swiss was unable to seize on the chances that came his way in a tense tie-break. 

Fucsovics had needed over four hours to overcome wild card Marc Polmans in the previous round and, once again, found a way to get over the finishing line at the end of a Melbourne marathon. 

The Hungarian trailed 6-1 during the decisive breaker, yet hit back to stun the 17th seed 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6 (11-9). For Wawrinka, there was frustration at the missed opportunities, albeit he also praised his conqueror. 
  
"From 6-1 up, I started to hesitate a little bit in the way I was playing," he said. "I wanted to put the ball maybe too much in and I [was] not going completely for my shots and that's when I started to miss a little bit and it helped him to come back in the match.  

"He was fighting well, he's a tough player, he's a good player and he deserved to win." 

The war of words between Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios continued on day one of the Australian Open, while Gael Monfils was reduced to tears after a first-round exit.

Reigning champion Djokovic cruised past Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-1 6-2 in just over an hour and a half but was unwilling to be drawn on comments made by Kyrgios following the home favourite's 6-4 6-4 6-4 success against Frederico Ferreira Silva.

Djokovic, who has now won 15 straight Australian Open matches, will take on Frances Tiafoe next and Kyrgios has a meeting with Ugo Humbert. A potential crossing of their paths on court could not happen until the semi-finals.

Monfils, seeded 10th at Melbourne Park, could not hide his emotions after succumbing to a 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 defeat in a five-set thriller against Emil Ruusuvuori.

Benoit Paire was the only other seed to go out on day one, with Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman and Stan Wawrinka picking up victories.

 

"HE'S A STRANGE CAT"

On the eve of the first grand slam of the year Djokovic said he had "no respect" for Kyrgios off the court, which the Australian was confused by as he pointed out the charitable work he has done during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kyrgios was previously critical of the Adria Tour organised by Djokovic last year, which ended with multiple players testing positive for COVID-19.

Asked about the Serbian's pre-tournament comment, Kyrgios said: "It actually would make complete sense to me if he was like, 'Look, I don't respect the guy on the court.' Because I understand if he doesn't agree with some of my antics on the court that I have done in the past.

"He's a very strange cat, Novak is. Heck of a tennis player, but unfortunately someone that's partying with his shirt off during a global pandemic, I don't know if I can take any slack from that man. That's as bad as it gets for me."

When a reporter asked if they could read those comments out to Djokovic in his post-match news conference, the 17-time major champion replied: "You can read it, but I'm not gonna answer to anything."

Upon hearing the remarks and being asked if he had a reply, Djokovic simply said: "No."

 

ANOTHER LOSS FOR MONFILS

Having lost his first-round match to Ruusuvuori, who incredibly saved 17 break points, Monfils remained without a win on the ATP Tour since February 2020.

The Frenchman was eliminated in the first round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2006 and admitted he had lost all his self-belief and was finding it extremely difficult to get himself back on track.

"I don't have any confidence. I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can't," said Monfils.

"I don’t know when it's going to end. It's hard. Every time I get here I feel judged, I've lost again. I can't serve, I'm playing badly. I'm being honest and it's going to take time."

 

BEST OF THE REST

Thiem made light work of Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with Dominik Koepfer, but Zverev had to come from a set down to beat Marcos Giron 6-7 (8-10), 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-2. He will face Maxime Cressy next.

Denis Shapovalov also had to fight back to defeat Jannik Sinner, who reached the French Open quarter-finals last year, in an entertaining five-setter on Margaret Court Arena.

Marin Cilic, the runner-up at Melbourne Park in 2018, went down 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-5) to Grigor Dimitrov, while Pablo Carreno Busta overcame Kei Nishikori 7-5 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

There were straight-set wins for Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Felix Auger-Aliassime against Paulo Sousa, Federico Coria and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe respectively, and Schwartzman defeated Elias Ymer 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 2-6 6-2.

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic could face Dominic Thiem in a mouth-watering semi-final after being handed a tough path to success at Melbourne Park, where Serena Williams will continue her quest for a 24th grand slam singles title.

The Australian Open draw took place on Friday, with world number one Djokovic set to play Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the opening round of the year's first major tournament.

Amid coronavirus concerns in Melbourne, where Swiss great Roger Federer is absent, Djokovic has set his sights on a ninth crown and 18th major success, but the top seed's title defence is far from straightforward.

Djokovic could face Gael Monfils (fourth round) and sixth seed Alexander Zverev (quarter-final) en route to a possible semi-final against US Open champion and third seed Thiem.

The Serb overcame Thiem in a five-set thriller in last year's Australian Open final, before the latter broke through for his maiden major trophy at Flushing Meadows.

Djokovic could then meet second seed and 20-time major champion Rafael Nadal in a blockbuster final – he blitzed the Spanish superstar in the 2019 Australian Open decider but lost in three one-sided sets in their previous meeting in the French Open final.

Nadal will go head-to-head with another Serb in the first round – Laslo Djere – while Stefanos Tsitsipas could await in the quarters, with 2019 US Open final opponent Daniil Medvedev also on the same side of the draw.

Meanwhile, Williams' bid for a record-equalling 24th slam will begin against German Laura Siegemund.

The 39-year-old Williams has been stuck on 23 majors since winning the Australian Open in 2017 – losing finals at Wimbledon (2018 and 2019) and the US Open (2018 and 2019).

World number one and local hope Ashleigh Barty will meet Montenegro's Danka Kovinic in round one and defending champion Sofia Kenin faces Australian wildcard Maddison Inglis.

The last 16 could see Williams clash with Aryna Sabalenka, Barty meet Petra Martic, Kenin tackle Johanna Konta and three-time major champion Naomi Osaka do battle with last year's runner-up Garbine Muguruza.

Novak Djokovic continued his perfect record at the ATP Cup to help Serbia beat Canada in their opening tie.

The world number one won all eight of his rubbers in the 2020 tournament and made a fine start to this event by battling to a 7-5 7-5 win over Denis Shapovalov in Melbourne.

Milos Raonic had earlier put Canada in front when he beat Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4, meaning Djokovic had to return for a decisive doubles clash alongside Filip Krajinovic. 

The Serbians prevailed, winning 7-5 7-6 (7-4) against Shapovalov and Raonic.

"Filip Krajinovic was the key," Djokovic said after the doubles triumph extended his undefeated run to 10. 

"The way he played is phenomenal. He came out with very solid returning. He found his serve, great rhythm. He just played some really key shots in the second set when we needed it the most."

Of his singles win, Djokovic added: "It was a very close match. Playing Shapo is always a great challenge on hard courts. 

"He's such a dynamic, explosive player; very talented. I thought we played on a very high level, so I'm really pleased with how I've started the season.

"This is the best way to kickstart the season, playing for your country.

"We don't get to see crowds in the tennis stadiums these days so much, so it's definitely a blessing. I'm really grateful to see you guys here in the stands."

SPAIN WIN WITHOUT NADAL

Defending champions Spain were without Rafael Nadal for their tie against Australia, but they still prevailed.

Pablo Carreno Busta had few problems seeing off John Millman 6-2 6-4.

And Roberto Bautista Agut ensured the tie was won before the doubles by emerging triumphant in an entertaining encounter with Alex de Minaur, which the Spaniard won 4-6 6-4 6-4.

Nadal, who is battling a back problem, hopes to return on Thursday when Spain take on Greece.

Elsewhere, Austria fell to a 2-1 loss against Italy, as US Open champion Dominic Thiem struggled.

After team-mate Dennis Novak had superbly beaten Fabio Fognini, world number three Thiem fell to a surprise 6-2 6-4 loss against Matteo Berrettini, with Austria going on to lose the decisive doubles.

Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev beat Guido Pella and Diego Schwartzman respectively as Russia produced an impressive performance to beat Argentina.

Elsewhere, at the Murray River Open, Nick Kyrgios made a winning start to his comeback after a year out of action.

He did not have it easy against the unheralded Frenchman Alexandre Muller, but salvaged a 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory to book a second-round meeting with fellow Australian Harry Bourchier.

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal agreed it was great to be playing in front of busy grandstands again as tennis stars emerged from lockdown in Australia.

The women's and men's tennis tours have been contested largely behind closed doors over the past year, and a number of tournaments, most notably Wimbledon, have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Australia public has given a cautious welcome to the arrival of the world's leading players, who have been quarantining in hotel rooms for much of the past fortnight, only allowed to briefly leave in order to train.

Ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on February 8 in Melbourne, Williams and Nadal are among a star-studded set of players who travelled to Adelaide to feature in the 'A Day at the Drive' exhibition event.

They both scored victories on Friday, with Williams defeating US Open champion Naomi Osaka 6-2 2-6 10-7 and Nadal snatching a 7-5 6-4 win over Dominic Thiem.

The delight in both at seeing crowds at a tournament was plain, with Williams saying in an on-court interview: "Thanks everyone for having us. We haven't played in front of a crowd in over a year. It's been a really long time."

In fact, it has not quite been a full year since the tours locked down initially, as it was early March when most tournaments began to be called off, with crowds frozen out.

Williams said the reception made the difficult past fortnight, being hidden away from the world, worth the strain for the players.

"This is really cool and then for having us and trusting us with your laws was great," said the 23-time grand slam winner. "We were so excited to be here and it's worth it."

Nadal said he was "super happy" to still be playing at the highest level and back in front of Australian crowds.

The pandemic has been carefully managed to the point where very few have the virus and it is considered safe to allow crowds into sporting events in the country.

Nadal said: "Hopefully this situation will go away quick and we will be able to enjoy fans on court [around the world].

"We're super excited to have fans at the Australian Open and today."

That optimism and excitement was shared by men's world number one Novak Djokovic, who played just one set against Jannik Sinner due to a problem with blisters on his right hand.

Eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic told fans: "Thank you so much for coming out and making our day and making our year.

"We didn't play in front of this much crowd for 12 months. This is definitely something very special.

"It wasn't easy, obviously, with 14 days being constrained in the room and a few hours to train, but at the end of the day it was worth it because you guys made it very special today for us."

Daniil Medvedev's triumph at the ATP Finals has earned public acclaim from Russia president Vladimir Putin, who said he "demonstrated great preparation, mastery and truly fighting spirit".

World number four Medvedev won a barnstorming final against Dominic Thiem in the last showpiece to be held at London's O2 Arena before the season-ending tournament moves to Turin in 2021.

Medvedev came from a set down to defeat the US Open champion - who had beaten him en route to glory at Flushing Meadows - to secure the biggest title of his career.

In doing so, Medvedev became the second Russian to win the event after Nikolay Davydenko in 2009.

Putin posted a telegram on the Kremlin's official website on Tuesday, part of which was quoted by Russian news agency TASS, to congratulate Medvedev.

"You went through the whole ATP Finals tournament brilliantly and, in one breath, you demonstrated great preparation, mastery and truly fighting spirit in beautiful and tense matches," the telegram read. 

"Your victory continues great traditions of the Russian tennis school."

Medvedev and Thiem each scored wins over both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to reach Sunday's showpiece.

Speaking on Monday, Medvedev said it will be difficult for any of the chasing pack to become world number one while ever those two greats are still playing.

"It's still a long way to get to the top of the line [in the ATP rankings]," Medvedev told TASS.

"You have to complete the season better than all the rest to become the world's number one. Sometimes 8,000 points can be sufficient but on other occasions 12,000 points are not enough. 

"It all depends on me; the more tournaments that I’ll have like in Paris and London, the more chances I’ll get to top of the ATP rankings."

Daniil Medvedev expressed his desire for more matches against Dominic Thiem on the biggest stages after revelling in one of his "best victories" to become ATP Finals champion.

The Russian won a thriller at London's O2 Arena, coming from behind to win 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to overcome an opponent who had defeated him in the semi-finals of the US Open.

Medvedev and Thiem had beaten Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic respectively to reach Sunday's showpiece, which marked the last in the English capital before Turin becomes host to the Finals in 2021.

The world number four had nothing but praise for Thiem, who went on to win the title at Flushing Meadows, when addressing his win after the match.

"First of all, what a match. Maybe one of my best victories," the champion said.

"I mean, two hours 42, three sets against an amazing player, Dominic congrats for what you achieved in your career, I think your name is already in the history books of tennis.

"So, it's amazing, you won a grand slam this year. I mean, you're playing unbelievable. I hope we're going to have many more matches to come on the big occasions like this - semi-final of the US Open and final here - so congrats to you and your team. You're doing an amazing job."

The respect was returned by Thiem, who was typically classy in defeat and reflected on a season that saw him make his major breakthrough.

"Of course, I'm disappointed, but at the same time I'm also proud of the performance, of all the week," he said.

"Daniil really deserves it. Amazing match, congrats for, in general, another great year as well.

"Amazing month, November, with the Bercy [Paris Masters], title here and I hope we have many great matches to come. It was a pleasure today even though I lost.

"And thanks also to my team for all the support - without the crowd it's even more important.

"Thanks a lot, we had an unbelievable year as well. Thanks for taking care of me in all the bubbles and I can't wait for other great years with all of you."

Daniil Medvedev roared back from a set down to defeat Dominic Thiem and become the ATP Finals champion after a titanic tussle at the O2 Arena in London.

Medvedev earned the biggest prize of his career in a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 triumph in the last final held in London before the tournament moves to Turin next year.

It was a fitting end to the English capital's run as Medvedev produced a valiant fight back on the back of 37 winners to become the second Russian ATP Finals victor, becoming the first to defeat the world's top three players to do so in the process on Sunday.

Medvedev, who defeated Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, gains a measure of revenge for his last-four defeat to eventual champion Thiem at the US Open, with his Austrian opponent – a winner over Novak Djokovic on Saturday – losing the showpiece match for the second year running.

Thiem staved off a break point with a huge ace in his mammoth first service game but there was little to separate two players in great form in a slog of a first set.

In the end it was a costly lapse in concentration where Medvedev dropped five straight points on serve – one a glorious reverse forehand drop-shot from Thiem that preceded an ugly double fault for the break.

Thiem, who matched his opponent with 12 winners in the first set, clinched the opener with a fortuitous net chord that brought a wry smile from Medvedev.

Medvedev was more grimacing than smiling as he had to dig deep on serve in games five and seven, though, as the quality on display from both players increased.

But the Russian held his nerve to force the breaker and, after losing the first two points, reeled off seven in a row to force the decider against Thiem.

With the momentum shifting, Thiem survived from 0-40 in game three but – after saving a couple more break points – finally slipped behind at his next service game when an audacious backhand was followed by a clinical volley by Medvedev. 

Thiem refused to yield and made his opponent fight for every point but a huge serve from Medvedev was unreturnable to leave the 2019 US Open runner-up celebrating.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Medvedev – 37/30
Thiem – 29/29

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Medvedev – 12/3
Thiem – 6/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Medvedev – 1/9
Thiem – 1/4

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