Dominic Thiem clawed his way up to victory in five sets at the 2020 US Open men's singles final against Alexander Zverev. The German took the first two sets before Thiem managed to make an inspired comeback to finally clinch a Grand Slam title, 2-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6 (8-6).
Thiem had lost three previous Grand Slam finals and will be relieved to finally break the losing streak. Meanwhile, Zverev appeared in his first Grand Slam final, and will now have to wait a little longer to achieve his maiden victory.
The 23-year-old German took early control of the match, but his confidence faltered in the third set and the pressure became too much as Thiem started to make his presence felt. The Austrian forced a deciding set and Zverev was haunted by double faults in the crucial moments of the tie break. Thiem finally made it over the line and he collapsed on his back as he soaked in the winning moment.
Zverev graciously waited to hug his friend, but he was clearly emotional after missing the opportunity. He spoke about missing his parents, who were unable to come to New York after testing positive for COVID-19.
"I miss them. I'm sure they are sitting at home pretty proud even though I lost. I wish one day I can bring the trophy home," he said, as quoted by the BBC.
Apart from being his first Grand Slam title, Thiem's victory is momentous in many ways. This is the first time since 2014 that any men's player won a maiden Grand Slam. The last man to do it was Marin Cilic also in the US Open.
Meanwhile, This is also the first time since 2016 that someone outside of the "big three" has clinched a Grand Slam title. Defending champion Rafael Nadal skipped the tournament citing health and safety concerns while Roger Federer is recovering from a knee injury. Novak Djokovic entered the tournament but was disqualified after accidentally hitting a line judge with a ball after he swung at it out of frustration.
It was an odd US Open which was played in an empty venue. Nevertheless, the sport soldiers on amid the pandemic and the completion of the event is a massive victory for the sport.