A new major champion was going to be crowned, something men's tennis has waited for, for six years. Dominic Thiem, the man who's hit three Slam finals, in the last few years, or Alexander Zverev, the leader of the "NextGen" winning multiple Masters titles and the Nitto ATP Finals.
It would be Dominic Thiem to lift a maiden major title by winning the US Open final, coming from two sets down (first time in a major final since the 2004 French Open) to win 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6).
Zverev Comes Out Firing
The first serve that was so key for Thiem throughout the tournament was letting him down in the start. Zverev came out aggressive and getting to the net early. He was quickly rewarded with a break and consolidated with a routine service game.
The German looked a lot more comfortable to start this match compared to his last two matches. He was taking more risks on his groundstrokes and coming forward more, looking unphased in his first major final.
The fifth-seeded German moved up a double break on another Thiem unforced error. He closed it out 6-2 in an unbelievable opening set that not even he could have imagined having started with.
The key stat in this set was the second-seeded Austrian winning only 29% of second serve points. Zverev also had 68% of first serves in, over 30% higher than Thiem.
Zverev Holds On Despite Slip
The German had another look to break but finally had a moment where he looked tight. The second-seeded Austrian got out of that game unscathed but knew he had to up his level to win this match. Despite the hold in the first game, Thiem was unable to reset, getting broken in the third game after another unforced error.
He had an opening up 0-30 in Zverev's following game and was unable to get the break back as the German moved 3-1 up. Zverev was not doing much wrong as his opponent continued to litter mistakes in his own service game. A second break was taken by the five seed as Thiem looked lost out there.
Zverev looked shaky on the set point chances he had on the Thiem serve. The two seed found his way through to force the five seed to serve for the set. A couple of chances for the German to close it out, but a missed open-court volley at 40-30 kept Thiem in it. The 27-year-old broke in his first opportunity. Thiem needed a quick hold to follow it up, and he did just that to put the pressure on Zverev once again.
On his fifth set point, the 23-year-old closed out the set to move within one set of a maiden major title.
Similarly to the second set, it would be Zverev who broke in the third game. Helped by a number of missed volleys in that game, the German moved within four games of the title. Four looked to be a key number as Thiem broke on his fourth chance to level the set at 2-2.
Both men held their ground and toughed it out the next two service games especially in the seventh and eighth games where both men were pushed to deuce.
Two set points for Thiem in the tenth game, a Zverev forehand that floated well wide reduced the gap for the Austrian to just a set.
Going The Distance
An improved performance from the Austrian on the ground as his groundstrokes had more bite, the slice backhand was hit with more precision as the keys to taking the last set. He would need more of that to force a decider and more continued consistency off the ground to force a decider.
Thiem won an impressive rally at 15-30 which had Zverev moving him all over the court, but it was the Austrian who hit a forehand winner to get two break point chances. The 23-year-old fought back and held, just as it looked like Thiem had grabbed all the momentum.
Zverev didn't have the same spring in his step like he did in the opening two sets. A double-fault gave Thiem looks at a break point and converted off a forehand error from the German. No problem for Thiem closing out the set as it went the distance.
Thiem Tames His Grand Slam Demon
Momentum clearly was on Thiem's side as Zverev's consistency off the ground disappeared, gifting a break to the two seed to start the decider. The German struck right back after a backhand winner down the line gave him a break point at 30-40. Thiem double-faulted to make it 1-1.
From then on, the two kept their serves despite facing deficits in some of those games. Zverev had his big opening at 4-3, 0-30. Thiem fought back but was broken to let Zverev serve for the match. The 27-year-old had his own opening with two break back chances to extend the match, and he converted on the second one after a missed volley from the 23-year-old.
After holding for 5-5, this would become the first-ever US Open men's final to go past the tenth game of the final set. A backhand into the net set up break point for the Austrian. After a long rally, Zverev went for it all down the line with his forehand but missed, putting Thiem at the brink of a first major title.
As if we needed more drama in this one, Thiem called the trainer over to look at the upper leg of the Austrian. The first break point went long off a missed return, but a forehand winner forced the first tiebreak in US Open men's final history.
Both men were trying to limp over the line, literally, as the toll of going to a fifth set was taking it to them physically. In a sloppy tiebreak, it would be Thiem to get the first looks at championship point up 6-4 after a forehand winner. To make it even better, he would be serving it, or at this rate, maybe it would have been better if he were the returner.
After getting the German outwide, Thiem went it for all with a forehand but missed into the net. At 6-6, a forehand winner gave him a third championship point. Zverev missed a backhand well wide to claim a maiden major title.