Speaking about that epic US Open final against Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem said he was hoping for a double fault from his rival at 6-5 in the deciding tie break, as he barely had anything left in the tank! Competing in his fourth Major final, Thiem survived all the obstacles to beat Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 in four hours and one minute and become a Major champion.
It was the most remarkable comeback in men's Major finals since Roland Garros 2004, with Theim overcoming two sets to love deficit to lift the trophy. Zverev had the victory in his hands, taking the opening two sets and serving for the title at 5-3 in the decider, squandering all that to finish runner-up in his first Major final.
Thiem grabbed four points more overall, and they stayed neck and neck in both the shortest and more advanced exchanges for a memorable tennis clash. The German had more winners and unforced errors, scoring eight breaks from 18 opportunities and suffering seven breaks from 13 chances offered to the Austrian.
Alexander made a furious start, firing 16 winners and dropping three points on serve in the opener to leave the rival far behind and take it 6-2. Zverev forced Thiem's error to secure the first break at 1-1 and held at love with a forehand winner to confirm the advantage and open a 3-1 gap.
The youngster landed another forehand winner to cement the sixth game and remain 4-2 up before forcing Thiem's mistake to grab another break in game seven and serve for the opener. Showing no sign of nerves, Alexander landed an ace down the T line to wrap up the encounter's first part after 30 minutes, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash.
Continuing where he left in the first, Zverev stormed over Thiem in the second set's opening six games to forge a 5-1 advantage. The Austrian sprayed a forehand error in the third game to fall behind and wasted two deuces on the next game's return to find himself 4-1 down following another forehand mistake in game five.
Dominic Thiem prevailed over Alexander Zverev in four hours in New York.
Facing three set points at 1-5, Dominic dug deep to fend them off and prolong the set, repelling another on the return to pull one break back and reduce the deficit to 4-5 following a hold at love.
With no room for errors, Alexander held in game ten to grab the second set 6-4 and take a massive two sets to love advantage after 80 minutes! Zverev broke in the third set's third game when Thiem landed a forehand beyond the baseline but suffered a break a few minutes later to keep the rival on the positive side.
At 4-4, the Austrian held after deuce for one of the pivotal holds, stealing Alexander's serve at 15 when the German sent a forehand wide to take the set 6-4 and prolong the encounter. Carried by this momentum, Thiem had a clear upper hand in set number four, dropping two points behind the initial shot and creating two break chances in the sixth game.
Zverev saved them to stay in touch but netted a forehand in game eight to fall 5-3 behind and allow Thiem to secure the set and force a decider. They traded early breaks in the final set, and Alexander clinched another in game eight to forge a 5-3 lead and serve for the trophy.
He couldn't bring it home, though, netting an easy volley at the net to keep Thiem alive and suffering another break in game 11 after losing ground. It was Dominic's turn to serve for the title, but he also cracked under pressure, losing serve to set the first-ever deciding tie break in the US Open's men's final!
From 6-4 down, Alexander saved two match points to level the score before dropping another point at the net and spraying a backhand mistake in the 14th point to hand the title to Thiem and experience a heartbreaking defeat.
"When we reached the deciding tie break, I was fully aware that only a few centimeters were going to make the difference between my biggest victory and biggest defeat. I constructed the point nicely on my first match point at 6-4.
If my legs had been fresher, the forehand would have gone in. At 6-5, I was hoping for Zverev's double fault, but it didn't come. I put everything into the 13th point, as I didn't want to play against a match point at 6-7, as I didn't have too much left in my legs.
In the end, it was an incredible feeling of joy. Still, I had to think about Alexander and comfort him at the net after such a tight encounter," Dominic Thiem said.