The first US Open played with empty stands, the first final (50 years since the tie-break introduction) concluded in the 5th set tie-break, and finally… the first man born in the 90s becomes a Grand Slam champion! Seven months ago, after their epic 4-setter in the Australian Open semifinal, Thiem called Zverev’s serve the best in the world. Early on in the US Open final, he showed tremendous respect to this serve standing as far as actually possible behind the baseline being prepared for returning. Zverev  was holding without any troubles until he sensationally led 6-2 5:1* (set point) – reminiscence of his semifinal in which he trailed 3-6 0:5* (deuce) to Carreno. As Thiem  held saving three set points, he finally figured out how to respond on Zverev’s serves and the one-sided match in the first hour turned to be balanced for another three hours. The first crucial moment came at 4-all (deuce) in the 3rd set – Thiem’s ball was called ‘out’ but he made a challenge and instead of mini-match point for Zverev the point was repeated – Thiem won it, the game and the set. In the 4th set he broke in the 8th game albeit Zverev had a game point to equal at 4-all. The 5th set was crazy. They exchanged breaks in the beginning and Zverev became more emotional. He was serving at 5:3, led 5:4* (30/15) when Thiem got the point with a service winner, followed up by three forehand winners down the line (the first of them hit the sideline so the German of Russian origin was a few centimetres from a championship point). The Austrian broke at 5-all, but barely went to his chair suffering cramps. After a massage he seemed rather ok, but his movement was limited anyway. Zverev broke back and felt cramps too! The deciding tie-break it was a game of nerves, they both were afraid of hitting big serves (Thiem produced his fastest serve though, to lead 4:3… 132 mph), Zverev committed two double faults not risking his second serves, Thiem was trying to base his backhand on slicing while normally it’s only a shot he uses in defence. The Austrian led 6:4* and wanted to finish the championship with a powerful forehand – missed twice. 6-all: Zverev attacks the net, and Thiem plays at him two strong backhands, Zverev blocks two BH volleys and Thiem passes him with a big forehand down the line. Third match point. Thiem’s first serve just 93 mph (149 kph), 4-stroke rally & Zverev sends his casual backhand wide. # That match reminded me of the French Open ’84 final when Lendl was also destroyed in the opening two sets before clinching his first major title. The Czechoslovak had lost his first four major finals, Thiem lost his first three. It’s Thiem’s second match he has won 8/6 in the 5th set tie-break, previously he did it 4.5 years ago in a Davis Cup rubber (Austria d. Portugal 4-1; Group I – first round) as he overcame Gastao Elias 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 in an indoor match after 3 hours 33 minutes, also coming back from a break down in the decider (in that match Thiem was not forced to save a match point too).
Thiem’s route to his 17th title (first major in his 160th main-level event):
1 Jaume Munar 7-6(6), 6-3 ret.
2 Sumit Nagal 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
3 Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
4 Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-1
Q Alex de Minaur 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
S Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 7-6(7), 7-6(5)
W Alexander Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6)
# Comparison of similar major finals:
FR Open ’84: Lendl d. McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5… 4 hours 8 minutes… Total points: 158-154… 5 pts away
US Open ’20: Thiem d. Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6… 4 hours 2 minutes… Total points: 163-159… 2 pts away
Thiem & Zverev are the two best players born in the 90s, it seems that the first half of this decade may belong to them taking into account Federer is 12 years older than Thiem, Nadal 7 years, Djokovic 6 years. Here is a comparison after their epic US Open final (Thiem leads 8-2 in their H2H, 3-0 at majors).
Thiem – 27 y.o… titles – 17 (1 major title, 3 major finals; 1 M1K title, Masters runner-up)… 291-153 record… 9-7 five-setters (56%)… 114-97 tie-breaks (54%)
Zverev – 23 y.o… titles – 11 (1 major final, 1 major SF; 3 M1K titles, Masters champion)… 235-121 record… 14-7 five-setters (66%)… 92-66 tie-breaks (58%)
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