Dominic Thiem produced a phenomenal comeback from two sets down to win the US Open final against Alexander Zverev. It is the Austrian player’s first Grand Slam win, the culmination of expectations that he would one day be a champion, and it was a sterling display.
After the tournament, Thiem said: “I dedicated basically my whole life until this point to win one of the four majors. Now I did it.” It was an incredible match and one that went down to the wire, making Thiem a truly deserving winner.
Coming into the US Open, there was only one result on the cards – another Novak Djokovic win. He was the only member of the Big Three present, with Federer on injury leave and Nadal sitting this one out, making him the clear favourite. But after his shock default, due to accidentally hitting a line judge with a ball, it was suddenly anyone’s game. We didn’t know who would win but, with the remaining players, we knew that the 2020 US Open would have a first-time winner.
Thiem defeated Alex de Minaur and Daniil Medvedev to make his way to the final against his old friend. Once he was there, he was the new favourite, and it seemed as though the pressure initially got to him. He lost his previous three major finals, and he seemed set for another loss. In just 79 minutes, he was two sets down, a scoreline of 2-6, 4-6 against him. Zverev was comfortably on top of his game, serving four aces among 16 winners in the first set to steamroll his opponent, and Thiem rarely had a reply.
The prospect of a comeback victory appeared to shake Zverev
It was the third set when things began to turn around for the Austrian. The game suddenly looked much closer, and Zverev’s shaky serve began to reappear. The rallies between the two players began to grow longer, something which suited Thiem, and it enabled him to take the third set 6-4. As nerves grew on both sides, the prospect of a comeback appeared to shake Zverev, and Thiem won 6-3.
History was in the making in the fifth and final frame, and both men clearly knew it. It was a display of fantastic tennis and pressured-induced mistakes, and it could have been either player’s victory. In the deciding frame, Zverev and Thiem both had faulty starts.
Zverev had an opportunity with Thiem 3-5 down, but he slipped up on a volley and kept the match alive. Thiem pushed it to 5-5, and two double faults in the fifth-set tie-break gave the upper hand to the Austrian player. Despite suffering from cramp, Thiem eventually claimed the win, with a wide backhand from his opponent ending the match.
I hope that I’m going to be a little bit more relaxed and play a little bit more freely
– Dominic Thiem
For Thiem, winning his first Grand Slam could lead onto further victories. He said: “I had it in the back of my head that I had a great career so far, way better career than I could ever dreamt of, but until today there was still a big part, a big goal missing. With this goal achieved, I think and I hope that I’m going to be a little bit more relaxed and play a little bit more freely at the biggest events.”
The winner has already stated his intention to play in the rescheduled French Open, which will begin later this month, although there are questions over whether the rest period will be anywhere near long enough.
Zverev was left in tears after the loss, particularly after his incredible early opportunity collapsed. He said: “I was super close to being a Grand Slam champion. I was a few games away, maybe a few points away. For me, what upset me the most is not the third set, it’s the fifth set.
“I had a lot of chances in the fifth set and didn’t use them. I’m 23 years old. I don’t think it’s my last chance. I do believe that I will be a Grand Slam champion at some point.”