Dominic Thiem becomes first man EVER in the Open era to come back from two sets down to win US Open final as Austrian beats Alexander Zverev in four-hour, five-set epic to claim his first Grand Slam title
- Dominic Thiem squeezed every last bit of energy out to win the US Open title
- The Austrian’s body appeared weary in a near four-hour, five-set showdown
- Alexander Zverev raced into a two-set lead but faltered thereafter in New York
- It came down to a fifth set tiebreak and Thiem used experience to take victory
A dramatic fifth set tiebreak heralded the end of six year wait for men’s tennis finally to gain a new Grand Slam champion – the Austrian who for two years has looked like the next cab off the rank.
At the fourth time of asking Dominic Thiem has his first Major, won amid nerve-shredding tension before the most minor of crowds at the US Open inside the near deserted Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 27-year-old from the market town of Lichtenworth, virtually hobbling with soreness by the end, triumphed 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 in just under four hours. At times it seemed like the match nobody wanted to win.
Dominic Thiem finally ended his wait for a Grand Slam title as he claimed the US Open
A four hour epic was settled in a championship tie-break as Thiem collapsed with sheer joy
Thiem appeared broken physically and emotionally after a match that tipped over four hours
Alexander Zverev raced into a two-set lead but pressure told and he was beaten in five sets
The German could only watch on inside an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium as Thiem celebrated
Thiem finally clinched it 8-6 in the tiebreak on his third match point, having made a horrible mess of two straightforward forehands when he had chances at 6-4 and 6-5 after two double faults from his opponent.
He was hobbling at times through leg soreness by the end as he faced down his close friend and rival, his nerve just about holding up.
Finally, having nosed ahead for 7-6, Zverev swung a backhand wide into the tramlines and the world No 3 was the champion.
Whether it will prove a stepping stone to usurping the Big Three remains to be seen, but bagging the first big one is crucial, and he has avoided the fate of Andy Murray, who lost his first four Major finals.
Zverev started far stronger and was unleashing fury from the back of the court early on
But Thiem simply refused to be beaten despite his body appearing to break down throughout
The first four sets were largely forgettable, with their quality of play failing to dovetail at any point, and their levels crossing over halfway through the third set.
Nearly three hours were on the clock as they went into the decider, which Thiem began with a break that was quickly wiped out as Zverev stemmed his momentum.
Fifth sets are about heart as much as technique or even fitness, and although there was no crowd to feed off the German became notably more animated as he sensed his chance.
Having edged ahead for 4-3 he pounced, gaining a break point on one of Thiem’s many missed forehands and then driving forward to punch a forehand into the corner to move ahead for 5-3.
The two players were both looking for a first Slam title and embraced at the end of the match
Zverev was first up to speak after the match and he was left battling against his raw emotions
But the pressure proved too much and what had been his banker shots on the night, his backhand and volley, let him down as is nerve crumbled the Austrian broke him straight back to fifteen.
Thiem was now starting to limp a little but the adrenalin was getting him through. He forced a break point at 5-5 and then gratefully received two groundstroke errors from the wobbling Zverev, calling for treatment on his calf as he prepared to serve for his destiny.
He flunked the chance, sending it into the dramatic denouement.