09:40 PM GMT November 10, 2018
One year ago, Stefanos Tsitsipas was an alternate at the Fiera Milano. The Greek was close, but yet so far from competing at the premier 21-and-under event in the world.
But this time around, Tsitsipas was not only the top seed in Milan, but he captured the title, winning the Next Gen ATP Finals with a 2-4, 4-1, 4-3(3), 4-3(3) victory against second seed Alex de Minaur on Saturday.
"It feels great. I've been playing some great tennis this week here in Milan," Tsitsipas said. "It was a fantastic match. I stayed calm although I had a chance twice to win the match, but remained calm. I was aiming to win that match. I was mentally very strong and that was proven in the tie-break in the last set."
The triumph caps a tremendous breakthrough season for the 20-year-old, who began 2018 at No. 91 in the ATP Rankings with four tour-level match wins. Since then, Tsitsipas reached his first ATP World Tour final in Barcelona, beat four Top 10 opponents en route to the Toronto championship match, earned his maiden tour-level trophy in Stockholm and now heads home with a trophy from the Next Gen ATP Finals.
In the fourth set, Tsitsipas was on the verge of victory with a 3-2, 30/40 lead on De Minaur’s serve. But after the Greek missed an inside-in forehand, De Minaur hit a lunging backhand volley to save his second match point and force a tie-break.
But the 19-year-old was unable to carry that momentum any further. Tsitsipas didn’t let slip his third match point, falling on his back in celebration after De Minaur missed an inside-in forehand long after one hour and 41 minutes.
Tsitsipas joins inaugural titlist Hyeon Chung as undefeated champions at the Next Gen ATP Finals, earning $407,000 for his efforts. His five victories this week surpass his career win total (4) before 2018.
"I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity to play here in Milan and be the second winner of the tournament," Tsitsipas said. "It's a very special moment. I think I can get some confidence out of it and play better in the future."