The second Masters 1000 event of the season starts in Rome on Monday, with some of the world's best players fighting for the title and 1000 points. Since 2005, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have won 13 titles in the Italian capital, standing as the favorite to fight for the crown next Monday, without Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev in the draw.
The mentioned players have reached the latter stages at the US Open and they didn't want to make a quick trip to Europe and compete on clay straight away. Medvedev was the first one to withdraw from Rome, followed by the USA Open finalists Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem following their semi-final victories.
Thiem would have been the toughest rival for Djokovic and Nadal at Foro Italico, reaching the semi-final in 2017 and looking to improve early exits from the previous two seasons. Alexander Zverev is one of four Rome champions since 2005 and the beginning of Nadal's domination, winning the title in 2017 just after turning 20.
Instead of Rome, Thiem and Zverev are focused on the last match at the US Open, advancing into the final and seeking the first Major crown. In the semis, Thiem ousted Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 7-6, 7-6 in just under three hours, advancing into his fourth Major final and the first in New York.
Fending off six out of eight break chances, Thiem had the upper hand when it mattered the most to seal the deal in straight sets, reaching the third final in the previous five Majors. The Austrian claimed the opener with breaks in games six and eight, bouncing back from 5-3 down in set number two and saving a set point in the tie break to open two sets to love advantage.
In set number three, Medvedev had a 5-2 lead, wasting a set point in game nine and losing the tie break 7-5 to propel Dominic over the top.
Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem will not compete in Rome next week.
Alexander Zverev will compete in the first Major final following a thrilling 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 triumph over Pablo Carreno Busta in three hours and 22 minutes.
Zverev became the first player to overcome two sets to love deficit in the US Open semi-final since Novak Djokovic in 2011, giving his best to stay alive and grab another win. Alexander claimed three of the opening 14 games before hitting the zone, showing positive signs at the end of the second set and using that as a jumping board for the remaining three.
Firing 24 aces, Zverev fired 71 winners and 57 unforced error, 36 in the opening two sets. Barely spraying any errors in sets one and two, Pablo started to lose ground when he had to take the decisive step and finish the rival, unable to challenge Zverev's serve after the fourth set's fourth game.