Belief, perseverance & grit gets Thiem his maiden Grand Slam

It was a game which kept the fans glued to their TV screens till the last moment as both Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev gave it their all to clinch the men’s single title of the US Open 2020.

Thiem playing his fourth major final, used every bit of his Grand Slam experience to make a come back from the brink to beat Zverev, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 and won his first Slam silverware.

On Sunday evening at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, both men served for the match in the fifth set, Zverev at 5-3 and Thiem at 6-5, but neither came close to ending it. What started as a Zverev rout was ultimately decided by the finest of margins, 8-6 in the breaker, with each set more competitive than the one preceding it.

“It was tough to stay there and to still believe, but I did,” Thiem said in his post-match press conference. “It’s a Slam final…the belief was always there.”

“We started to know each other back in 2014 and straight away started to develop a great friendship… and then a great rivalry,” Thiem said after the match as per the ATP Tour website. “We’ve made great things happen on the court and off the court. It’s amazing how far our journey brought us to share this moment. I wish we could have two winners today. We both deserved it,” he added.

The No. 2 seed, who entered the match as the favourite, quickly found himself catching up as Zverev raced to a 6-2, 6-4 lead in under an hour. In the third set also, the German kept up his pace and was four games away from the title at the break when Thiem came out with a terrific comeback, finding his traction and winning the set 6-4. He continued that performance in the next set as well and forced the match into the decider.

Thiem then trailed 5-3 in the decider but rode on baseline winners to take it into a tiebreak. He squandered two match points from 6-4 but Zverev fired wide a third opportunity after four hours and two minutes as Thiem created history by becoming is the first player in the Open Era to rally from two sets down in a US Open final. Thiem has joined Thomas Muster (1995 Roland Garros) as the only Austrian men to win a major championship. He lost his first three Grand Slam finals, most recently in a five-set battle to Novak Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open.

This was the first US Open summit clash which was decided by a fifth-set tie-break.

“It was such a big relief,” Thiem said. “Obviously it was huge pressure in the match, huge emotions. Physically it was super tough. Then also it was not an easy four weeks in general. It was a lot coming through the mind, coming through the body,” he added.

With the win, Thiem improved to 8-2 in his head to head rivalry with Zverev. The Austrian has now won their past four matches, including a four-set victory in this year’s Australian Open semi-finals.