The winner of the clash between them will most likely earn a place in the knockouts of the tournament, so the stakes are high. But Federer then showed why he is considered the GOAT by so many in the tennis community. Tennis welcomed a first men's Grand Slam champion from outside the 'Big Three' since 2016 in Dominic Thiem during a 2020 campaign with compelling … She lost to a red-hot Iga Swiatek in the title clash but proved she will be a dominant and stable presence for the foreseeable future. And who provided us with feel-good moments at a time when we so desperately needed them? Although Williams won the Brisbane International, her first tournament title since coming back from childbirth, the season still feels like a missed opportunity. The 2020 ATP season has well and truly ended, so now is a good time to look back at the best matches of the year. Will 2019 Berrettini return in 2021? Both Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem started the ATP Tour Finals 2020 with a victory on Sunday and will be hoping for another one on Tuesday. 3 chose that moment to let his past ghosts come to the surface, as he served up a big double fault. Scoreline: Dominic Thiem def. She ultimately lost to Swiatek in the semifinals but nearly tripled her career earnings during her Parisian trip. This is really the best revenge moment. "Physically, mentally, I'm exhausted today. But his level dropped a little after that, and the Swiss took full advantage. Having finished the 2019 season in the world's top-five and started the 2020 campaign by making a major final at the Australian Open, Dominc Thiem's prospects were looking great until lockdown. Then she fell to Azarenka in the semifinals and had to withdraw from the French Open before her second-round match due to an Achilles' injury she sustained during the Azarenka match. Buoyed by the home support, Millman’s gears began clicking once again as he took the match into a fifth set. The Mallorcan did manage to set up a set point for himself at 6-5 - on his serve - but produced an uncharacteristic backhand error to let it slip. But even though he couldn't go deep at his home Slam, Kyrgios' win over Khachanov in the third round will linger in memory for a very long time. Martina Trevisan, another unseeded qualifier at the French Open playing in just her second major, was away from the game for four years due to an eating disorder. She also fell to Swiatek but cracked the top 100 for the first time at the end of the tournament. Understandably, she was less than thrilled by what transpired and not in prime playing shape weeks later at the start of the French Open. But the 16-year-old never seemed to find her rhythm in the restart -- losing in the first round at the US Open and in the second round at the French Open. If you closed your eyes and merely listened to the match, you would think that Thanos and Thor were going hammer and tongs at each other in the O2 Arena; such was the intensity in Nadal and Thiem’s shots. Roger Federer wasn’t physically compromised in Melbourne the way he was at the US Open, but he still couldn’t dictate the play like he usually does. 1 and reigning Australian Open champion, and Rafael Nadal, world No. John Millman 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8). A couple of days later the Aussie would again produce a special performance, pushing Rafael Nadal to his limit in a highly competitive four-set loss. The Serbian leads their ledger 6-4, but succumbed in their past two meetings – at the ATP Finals and the Roland Garros semifinals last year. Except that he didn't. 67, which he achieved on 7 October 2019. Serena Williams: The fan-less US Open looked to be the perfect scenario for Williams to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 major victories. But Russian Andrey Rublev did his best to interrupt the status quo. In Paris, the 27-year-old Italian enamored herself to fans with her story of perseverance and her joy on the court. Will 2021 be the year she makes history? Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer also produced some brilliant tennis in the year to find a place on the chart. But Dominic Thiem decided to do a Novak Djokovic on the Serb. The tweets were posted and the votes have been tallied: over the last week, thousands of our fans logged on to make their voices heard in the 2020 US Open Fans' Choice Awards. Dominic Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. She shocked everyone by advancing to the quarterfinals. Understandably, not many expected him to topple the King of Melbourne, Novak Djokovic, in his own backyard. Who managed to remain focused and have a breakthrough tournament or season? Madison Keys: A staple of the second week at majors over past several years, Keys was lacking her normal spark this season. But that wasn’t the case as Thiem and Nadal continued producing rally after rally of absolutely breathtaking quality. After playing cards with Benoit Paire at the US Open, Kristina Mladenovic was forced to withdraw with doubles partner Timea Babos ahead of their second-round match after Paire tested positive for COVID-19. Karen Khachanov 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-7(6), 6-7(7), 7-6(10-8). It was easily the Cinderella story of the year. Her decision to use her voice sparked discussions in the still-predominantly white sport, as well as with sports fans around the world. He also fell to Nadal but followed up his Parisian debut by notching his first ATP title at the Sofia Open in November, becoming the youngest to do so since Kei Nishikori in 2008. You are weighing the 2020 résumés for Novak Djokovic, the year-end world No. You'll rarely find a straight-setter at the top of the ‘best matches of the year’ list, or any tennis list for that matter. ATP Players of 2020, No. The 23-year-old won the US Open for her third major title in a dramatic comeback over Azarenka, and that wasn't even the most noteworthy part of her time in New York. The Austrian produced a series of stinging forehands and sharp first serves to set up his first match point at 6-5. A year or two ago, the Austrian might have struggled to recover from such a situation. Schwartzman's fellow countrywoman, Nadia Podoroska, also made her first major semifinal at Roland Garros in just her second Grand Slam event. Dominic Thiem (German pronunciation: [ˈdɔmɪnɪk ˈtiːm]; born 3 September 1993) is an Austrian professional tennis player. Ultimately, Serena rallied from a set down and a 4-2 deficit in the final set to earn the 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory. Al Bello/Getty Images. A custody battle over her son, Leo, prevented her from playing a full schedule since his birth in 2016. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer … Trevisan upset Kiki Bertens, Maria Sakkari and Coco Gauff en route to the quarterfinals. Despite the start-stop nature of the calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was some high quality tennis on offer - especially from Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. That would be Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion and French Open finalist. Khachanov eventually missed one of his backhands, to hand Kyrgios arguably his career-best win. The World No. It lacked its usual venom, and missed its mark a lot more than usual. He saved a match point in the third set tiebreak and another in the fourth set before finding himself a mini-break up at 8-7 in the deciding set tiebreaker. World Number 3 Austrian Dominic Thiem made amends for 2019 by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets at the Tour Finals opener on Sunday afternoon. But don’t be deceived by the scoreline here, because Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem ensured that every second of this match was worth its weight in gold. This was a match decided by very fine margins, as evidenced by the fact that there was only one break of serve throughout the clash. Lasting 2 hours, 19 minutes, the sisters battled for every point with vintage intensity. 3, which he first achieved on 2 March 2020, and in doubles is No. The fact is this: No one else played in three finals at the biggest tournaments of the year. Dominic Thiem came out on top in a high-quality match to beat Rafael Nadal at the ATP Finals. We know what you are thinking. And given the way he had been serving in the last set, his victory seemed like a foregone conclusion. 1 and local favorite Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals before defeating two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza in the final for a three-set victory. While 2020 was undoubtedly a difficult year, Osaka proved she is a young leader ready to create positive change for years to come. The American finished the season with a career-high ranking at No. Here's the list of the top five, in ascending order of quality: Scoreline: Roger Federer def. Thiem's ability to sustain his level in a challenging and unprecedented season was more than impressive and vaulted him past the rest of his those in the under-30 category. Subscribe now! Up 4-0 in the deciding set tiebreak, Novak Djokovic was just a few racquet swings away from making yet another final. 3: Dominic Thiem! Ranked No. She was then forced to quarantine in her hotel room for much of the duration of the tournament. Due to her inability to travel, Azarenka's play suffered. Facing each other for the sixth time at Majors, Dominic Thiem delivered his first victory over Rafael Nadal, defeating world no. But with neither one dramatically outshining the other, it's time to see who is behind door No. As the tennis season curtains down in a few days from now, the ATP Finals 2020 is hosting fascinating match-ups on the men’s tour. Throughout her run at the US Open, Naomi Osaka wore a mask highlighting a different Black victim of racial injustice and police brutality. Now 39, his career obviously is winding down. He won three more titles, making the quarterfinals in New York and Paris, and cracked the top 10 to qualify for his first ATP Finals. Alexander Zverev takes on Dominic Thiem in the final of the US Open 2020.Don't miss a moment of the US Open! He found a way out of the trickiest of spots in the most thrilling fashion possible, unleashing a barrage of jaw-dropping groundstrokes. For the second straight year, Dominic Thiem will play for the Nitto ATP Finals trophy, with a first-time champion guaranteed to be crowned in London. LONDON (AP) — Dominic Thiem ended Novak Djokovic’s bid for a record-tying sixth ATP Finals title, beating the top-ranked player 7-5, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5) in the semifinals Saturday by You carried me all the way, I'm proud to have you as a partner.". His best result was a fourth-round run at the US Open. Not known for her dominance on clay, Kenin adapted to the unusual conditions and wild weather of the delayed French Open and found ways to win against tricky opponents. Scoreline: Dominic Thiem def. When critics counted her out, she put together one of the most impressive three-week stretches in recent memory. He underwent surgery on his right knee in February and had a follow-up procedure in June. Yes, Nadal (and the injured Federer) didn't play at the US Open, and Djokovic was disqualified after hitting a line judge with a ball in the fourth round. The World No. That doesn't take away from Thiem's milestone in New York. They stopped only when the Austrian clinched the match by going up another level in the second set tiebreaker, but that left everyone watching wishing it could have gone three sets. He had come excruciatingly close, and yet was still a whole set away from victory. He had not only been to the doorstep of major success, but walked through it. Nadal had two set points in the first-set tie-break but could not convert with Thiem eventually securing the win on his fourth match point. But when both his return and serve are firing, even the best in the business can do nothing much except pray. She kept fans guessing during the tennis restart about her status but ultimately decided not to risk playing. Thiem and Nadal were unyielding on the court throughout the contest, measuring each groundstroke with the perfect amount of precision and an even greater amount of power. But instead he struggled before and after the restart. 4. Nick Kyrgios needed 97 winners and 266 minutes to douse the challenge of Karen Khachanov in the third round of the Australian Open this year. By: Reuters | Updated: December 15, 2020 12:26:46 pm Dominic Thiem celebrates with the US Open trophy after his match against Alexander Zverev. Recently crowned US Open champion Dominic Thiem will face Diego Schwartzman in the French Open quarter-finals on Tuesday, 6 October 2020. (Source: USA TODAY Sports) Tennis welcomed a first men’s Grand Slam champion from outside the ‘Big Three’ since 2016 in Dominic Thiem during a 2020 campaign with… Rublev, 23, started his 2020 season by winning back-to-back titles at the Qatar Open and Adelaide International and never slowed down. Federer reeled off five points in a row to find himself match-point up at 9-8. Diego Schwartzman, a fan favorite and beloved by his peers, cracked the top 10 for the first time in his career and advanced to his first major semifinal in Paris. Those are mind-boggling figures for any tennis match, but they still don't do justice to this titanic, belief-defying contest. But now his improved mental strength came to the fore, and he showed the world how to outdo Djokovic at his own formula. During the US Open just days later, Osaka chose to wear a different face mask ahead of each match commemorating victims of police brutality, including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. If Swiatek had any nerves entering the first final of her career, she didn't show them, completing her fortnight with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Kenin. Entering the New York bubble following the coronavirus hiatus, the 31-year-old was ranked outside of the top 50 and hadn't won a competitive match in over a year. She finished the year with another final appearance at the Ostrava Open and is now ranked No. 13. Thiem and Kenin were phenomenal on the court, but Naomi Osaka was extraordinary on and off of it. But that doesn't take anything away from the fact that Novak Djokovic hung around long enough for the Austrian's game to fall away. With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down the ATP and WTA tours for months -- including the cancellation of Wimbledon -- and dramatically altering the schedule and conditions at the events that did take place, it is hard to know what to make of the year that was. In the second set tiebreaker, Novak Djokovic came back from 0-2 down to build a 4-2 lead. He is the second-highest ranked Austrian player in history, behind former world No. 1 Thomas Muster. There was one player who made her way near the top of the rankings and not only stayed there but stepped up when it mattered most. Dominic Thiem beat Rafael Nadal in straight sets to continue his unbeaten campaign at this year's ATP Finals. He also played in the finals at the Australian Open and the ATP Finals. Nerves had clearly caught up to Thiem, and the Serb promptly manufactured a set point opportunity for himself - which he squandered with a forehand that sailed wide. 2: Dominic Thiem. Bianca Andreescu: The 2019 US Open champion didn't play a match in 2020 as she recovered from a knee injury. US Election 2020 Massachusetts profile: How state voted in 2016, demographics and more Dominic Thiem lost the last match of the year, but in 2020 the Austrian lived up to his promise. Thiem dropped the second set after winning the first but came back strongly to win the tie 7-6, 4-6, 6-3. The winner of this quarter-final duel will face either the 12-time champion Rafael Nadal or Italian teenage sensation Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals. Novak Djokovic eventually won the second set after what seemed like ages, which had to be a crushing blow for Thiem. 3 male tennis player, plans to play in the 2021 Olympics now that the Austrian Open will not overlap with the Tokyo Games. At that point it seemed that the Serb had all but guaranteed a deciding third set, but Thiem had other ideas. Updated 2221 GMT (0621 HKT) November 17, 2020 . Dominic Thiem features thrice in our list of the top 5 men's matches from 2020, while Novak Djokovic appears twice. During such a strange season, there was something so comforting about a Serena and Venus Williams battle in one of the first tournaments after the coronavirus hiatus. He ended the year ranked No. But some ferocious hitting by Thiem coupled with Djokovic's physical issues saw the Austrian grab a two sets to one lead. Thiem had a career-defining year and finally won his first major title at the US Open. The Aussie is known for fading away when the going gets tough, but on this day he refused to blink; he kept going for his shots, and kept making them. 17 and is a likely front-runner heading into the 2021 Australian Open. Kyrgios was serving up missiles and unleashing 150kph winners at will; what chance did a misfiring (and fatigued) Khachanov stand? 255, the 23-year-old needed to qualify to get into the main draw, but then won eight straight matches. And when the Austrian got a chance of his own, he grabbed took full toll by unleashing another big forehand. The women's game has seen the rise of a number of talented young players over the past few years but has been plagued with inconsistency. She promises to be back and 100 percent for the Australian Open. 1) Dominic Thiem def. But the duo -- the defending champions in Paris -- rolled through the tournament to win their fourth major title together with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Desirae Krawczyk and Alexa Guarachi. 1 seemingly improved with every game he played, and he kept asking questions of Thiem - who suddenly felt the ghosts of his two previous Major final defeats. After a year like no other, we've made it to the tennis offseason. After downing Rafael Nadal in an epic round-robin clash, the Austrian outlasted Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the Nitto ATP Finals. When Novak Djokovic’s return game is working well, your chances of winning automatically go down. Dominic Thiem, the world No. Her run in Paris proved just how resilient she can be. The Swiss legend summoned all of his experience and skills, anticipating everything that Millman sent his way to turn the tiebreaker around. Vasek Pospisil: The Canadian missed much of the 2019 season due to back surgery, then made the final (his first since 2014) at Montpellier and had a career-best fourth-round run at the US Open with wins over fellow countryman and No. She missed the start of the 2020 season and contemplated retirement. This was Dominic Thiem’s first-ever hardcourt Major final. He then thumped a forehand winner far beyond Millman's reach, reminding everyone that even at the age of 38, he should never be written off. Millman controlled his own share of the rallies early on and also retrieved quite well, to take the opening set 6-4. Jennifer Brady: The former UCLA player won her first WTA title at the Top Seed Open and made her first major semifinals at the US Open before losing a thriller to Osaka. Not to mention, she also advanced to the semifinals in doubles with partner Nicole Melichar. 25 seed Milos Raonic and eighth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut. "Just a few weeks after being unjustly disqualified from the US Open, being here with you and with this trophy is something very strong," Mladenovic said to Babos after the win. But Kyrgios somehow found his spots both on the return and serve, and ended one of the points with a stunning backhand down the line winner that took everyone's breath away. The Austrian won 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-4) for his second victory of the season-ending event at the O2 Arena in London. The momentum swung Federer's way as he won the second and third sets, and at that stage many believed he would wrap up the match in four sets. Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev shake hands after the semifinal A winning volley booked his 11th showdown with second seed Djokovic, his third appearance in a Grand Slam final. 24. Gauff is too talented and focused to struggle for long and she'll be motivated in 2021. Novak Djokovic struggled to produce his tennis, and it was later revealed that the Serb was dehydrated through much of this encounter. Dominic Thiem produced two of the best wins of his career in the space of one week. We will just have to wait and see. In Saturday’s opening semifinal, Thiem survived collapsing against five-time winner Novak Djokovic, 7-5, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5), to avenge his 2020 Australian Open final defeat to the world No. If there ever was a year for the unexpected, this was it. Hopefully he has another high-producing season (or two or three) left in him. Her post-Australia victory tour was cut short due to the pandemic. 3 after becoming the first male player born in the 1990s to win a Grand Slam and the first non-Big Three member since 2016 to win a major. It was the last year the tournament was being held in London, with the event moving to Turin, Italy, from 2021. Dominic Thiem set up another match-point with some crushing forehand missiles, but once again failed to convert. Scoreline: Nick Kyrgios def. Rafael Nadal did have his chances in the opening set, at one point leading the tiebreaker 5-2. The 27-year-old has a promising future ahead and French tennis star Gael Monfils predicts nothing but success for the hard-hitting talent. Rafael Nadal appears once on the list, while his arch-rival Roger Federer - who played just six matches all year - also produced some thrilling entertainment while he was on the court. The 28-year-old, 5-foot-6 Argentine qualified for his first ATP Finals after more than a decade on tour and played in his first Masters final at the Italian Open. Dominic Thiem reached his first Australian Open final, beating Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 in three hours and 42 minutes. Djokovic saved that with a gigantic serve, but Thiem's next match point was on his own serve. The Austrian clinched the US Open to end the ‘Big 3’s’ dominance and earned numerous fans along the way. John Millman, sensing another famous win, went for the jugular and amassed a seemingly unassailable 8-4 lead. When fans needed something to cheer for, the sisters delivered with one of the more competitive matches they've played against each other in their 31st showdown. The Serb saved one - his fifth overall - with an ace, but Thiem finally clinched the win with his sixth match-point of the evening. Thiem's breakthrough, Osaka's advocacy and Swiatek's rise highlight 2020 tennis season, Kenin, 16-2 in majors, voted WTA Player of Year, Federer says knee not 100%, iffy for Aussie Open, Wimbledon champ, Hall of Famer Olmedo dies, Ralston, Hall of Fame tennis player, dies at 78, Ukrainian player given life ban for match-fixing, USTA calls off youth winter championships, Australian Open reportedly set for Feb. 8 start, Daniil Medvedev finds confidence, composure en route to first ATP Finals victory, Medvedev defeats top 3 to win first ATP Finals, Kyrgios on mental health: I was in a dark place, Time away from tennis and 'Mamba Mentality': 2020 was the year Nick Kyrgios needed, Taylor Townsend excited about future in tennis and motherhood, Bryant: How a phone jack brought out the worst in the NCAA, UMass penalized for hoops, tennis violations, Breaking into singles top 100 remains Ankita Raina's aim post doubles success, Leander Paes eyeing 'unbreakable' record eighth straight Olympics in Tokyo, Lopez Perez banned 8 years for match-fixing, Osaka to star in new manga comic book series, Exacting travel plans and living in a vacuum: Welcome to the brave, new world of sport, Reinvigorated Prajnesh shifts focus to 2021 after promising year-end return, Becker leaves role at German Tennis Federation, Dominic Thiem never stopped believing he could win the 2020 US Open, chose to wear a different face mask ahead of each match, proved she is a young leader ready to create positive change, their second-round meeting at the TopSeed Open in Kentucky, she put together one of the most impressive three-week stretches, the youngest champion at Roland Garros since Nadal in 2005, her first major semifinals at the US Open.