History will be made at this year’s U.S. Open. And Austria’s Dominic Thiem is hoping to be the man to make it. There will be a new men’s champion at Flushing Meadows and if there’s a player who can stake their claim on the court of champions, it’s the world No.
3 Dominic Thiem. Sunday’s U.S. Open final will be the fourth one for Thiem. Having lost to Rafael Nadal twice at the French Open (2018-2019) and Novak Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open in a tough five-setter, Thiem hopes to turn the tide in New York and convert the title Grand Slam Finalist into Grand Slam Champion.
But first he must get through a confident Alexander Zverev, who is also hungry to achieve a historic breakthrough for himself at Flushing Meadows.
The 23-year-old German seems to be the fitter between the two, with Thiem having suffered a hyper-extension in his right foot in his semifinal match against Daniil Medvedev, 6-2, 7-6(7), 7-6(5).
However, even with the injury, Thiem still managed to outmaneuver the Russian, last year’s finalist and the front runner for the title since Djokovic was defaulted from the tournament.
Dominic dominated 🔥 #Thiem shouting "What are these shoes!?" He slipped 7 times.
Yet came back in third set. Played strategies. #Medvedev lost. Score : 6-2, 7-6(7), 7-6(5)
#Thiem in final vs #Zverev #USOpen #DominicThiem #USOpen2020 @Eurosport @BBCSport @usopen @ThiemDomi pic.twitter.com/UoCSje9HcM — Dipikka (@Dipikka_M) September 12, 2020
Even more impressive, Thiem squeezed out the victory in straight sets. His physio also says he will be in fine shape for the final.
Domi Thiem has been tapped to be the successor to the Big 3 (Roger Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic) in tennis, the only current player to have faced them in the most recent finals.
Dominic Thiem suffered an impingement after hyperextension in his right foot during his match vs.
Intensive care by physio Alex Stober to follow, including cooling to avoid swelling. Stober is sure that Thiem will be ready on Sunday. #USOpen — Lukas Zahrer (@ZahrerLukas) September 12, 2020
Thiem has scored wins over all three, including over Federer when he earned his first Masters 1000 last year at Indian Wells. Thiem also beat Nadal in the quarters of the Australian Open, but was unable to muster the same against Djokovic in the final.
Thiem earned a spot in the ATP Final last year by beating Djokovic along the way. Same at Roland Garros, where he defeated the 17-time grand slam champion in the semis. But taking out the 12-time French Open legend Rafa in the final was just insurmountable.
It’s been like that for so much of Thiem’s career. The Big 3 are responsible for the golden age of tennis, which can feel the opposite for the players trying to break down the grand slam barrier. Even if you have enough juice to beat a Federer or a Nadal, you have to turn around and perform the same miraculous win over say, Djokovic.
It’s a threshold Thiem has suffered under for some time now. “He’s one of very few guys who is super close to the big three in terms of playing, first on a very high level, then second holding this level for however long the match takes.
He played like a real champion,” said his semifinal opponent Medvedev after the loss, according to The Guardian. On Sunday, Thiem may be able to call on the strength of experience, his knowledge of what a grand slam final feels like.
He will play his good friend Zverev, who he has gotten the better of the last three times they faced each other, including this year’s AO semi. Two out of those three were on hard courts. Thiem has also lost only one set all tournament, to 2014 U.S.
Open winner Marin Cilic, in the third round. Thiem has frankly played his best tennis throughout the U.S. Open, the same can’t be said about ‘Sascha’ Zverev.
But a grand slam final comes with its own set of factors.
Thiem and Zverev have set up one of the most intriguing and youngest the #GrandSlamfinal in the open era.
I’m tipping Domic Thiem to win his first #GrandSlamTittle 🥇🏆. It’s live on SuperSport GrandStand HD 221 @ 20:00GMT🕗. Don’t miss it !🎾🎾🎾🎾🎾 pic.twitter.com/P4R3xXzpRy — Barimah - Kwabena AND Boboo (@BenKobie) September 13, 2020
Who will get the win? It depends on how fully healed Thiem is by the time he steps onto Arthur Ashe stadium. It depends on which player—both touted nextgen sensations—is the hungrier of the two. But mostly it will come down to which one of them can handle their nerves best in what will be the greatest opportunity of their tennis careers.
I predict a tight, close match that will go the distance. But ultimately, I believe Thiem’s fourth final showing will translate into his first slam victory.