There will be a new name on the list of ATP Finals winners this year after defending champion Alexander Zverev joined six times title holder Roger Federer in bowing out.
Sunday’s final will be between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem. The end-of-season event offers a shot at the biggest title of either player’s career so far.
Saturday’s semi-finals pointed to another final for the Swiss great, whose performance in knocking out Novak Djokovic on Thursday reached the heights of perfection.
But, as England’s rugby men found after their sensational triumph over New Zealand, elevating your game a second time is not always easy and Federer paid for missed chances in an error-strewn performance.
He had six break points in the opening set, but eventually succumbed 6-3, 6-4, to the youngest man in the tournament in Tsitsipas, whose breakthrough year has seen him rise among the elite to mark himself out as a future grand slam champion.
The 21-year-old Greek defeated Federer in the Australian Open earlier this year, so had no inferiority complex to overcome against the man 17 years older than himself, who has 20 grand slam tiles to his name.
Tsitsipas seemed to have peaked earlier in the week and in losing a three setter in his final group match against Rafael Nadal on Friday, he had looked limited, failing to eke out a single break point during nearly three hours of tennis.
But in his semi-final he was assured when it mattered and he made the most of a below-par performance from the man he grew up admiring.
He said it was “a dream come true” to beat Federer in London, adding: “I wished one day I could face him and today I’m here living the dream.
“I remember myself being one of the kids here watching the event and I could never picture myself here. But it can happen.”
The Austrian Thiem, 26, has also played some excellent tennis this week, accounting for Federer and Djokovic in group matches. He was on the back foot against last year’s champion early on, but Zverev faltered. Thiem took the tie 7-5, 6-3.
“It’s unreal for me to beat the defending champion,” Thiem said. “He’s a very good friend and an unbelievable player. It’s an unbelievable achievement.”
The three biggest names have fallen – including Nadal, who has still never won this competition. The next generation has, in this tournament at least, made its mark.
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