Dominic Thiem Fights Back To Win Maiden Major Title In US Open Epic - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

Dominic Thiem Fights Back To Win Maiden Major Title In US Open Epic

The world No.3 looked like he was on the verge of a straight sets loss before staging the greatest comebacks of his career.

Published

on

Dominic Thiem has become the first player in the Open Era to win the US Open title after coming back from two sets down in a dramatic roller-coaster clash against Alexander Zverev.

 

The second seed struggled both mentally and physically throughout his 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) triumph where he was at one stage two points away from losing. Fighting on the court for more than four hours, Thiem was forced to recover from a lacklustre start before ousting his heartbroken Germany rival who at one stage served for the match.

“Sascha. We started to know each other in 2014 when we were both ranked 100th or something and straight away we developed a great friendship,” said the new champion.
“Then in 2016, I think, our great rivalry started again and we made great things happen on and off the court.
“It is amazing how far our journey brought us.
“I wish we could have two winners today, we both deserve it.”

Thiem’s milestone victory was far from plain sailing as he hit 43 winners against 52 unforced errors and won just 48% of his second service points. Nevertheless, he had the edge when it came to the mental battle.

Zverev, who is the youngest player to contest a US Open final in a decade, endured a turbulent route into the title showdown after coming back from a set down in three out of his six previous matches. Although it was a different story for the German against Thiem, who struggled with both nerves and his first serve at the start. Three games into the match Zverev drew first blood after a backhand slice from his opponent slammed into the net and granted him his first break. Throughout the 30-minute opener he continued to dictate play by dropping only three points behind serve and capitalized on his rival’s tentative hitting before sealing the first set with an ace down the line.

Historically in their rivalry, winning the first set hasn’t always been good news. In five out of their nine previous meetings the player who lost was the one who won the first set. However, Zverev refused to relinquish his lead with the help of some high intensity play. Best illustrated by the 103 mph forehand winner he hit en route to breaking once again during the early stages of the second frame. Although a minor wobble whilst leading 5-1 did revive Thiem’s belief as the Austrian claimed three games in a row.

The comeback

https://twitter.com/usopen/status/1305306736493039618

Nearing the prospect of recording the biggest victory of his career, it was Zverev’s turn to experience nerves against a defiant Thiem who found a fresh burst of energy during set number three. Trading breaks early on there was little disparity between the two until the business end. Serving 4-5 down, back-to-back errors from Zverev rewarded Thiem’s perseverance as he snatched the third set.

Continuing the comeback, Thiem started to look the stronger of the two. As Zverev’s error count increased, the Austrian began to be the one dictating play with the help of some blistering shots from both his forehand and backhand side. It would be a Zverev double fault followed by an unforced error that would grant Thiem the opportunity to serve and level the match. Something he did with a love service game.

With a first major trophy, as well as a $3 million prize, at stake the match would be decided by what turned out to be one of the most gut-busting sets of the entire tournament. Incredibly Zverev failed to serve the match out whilst leading 5-3 before the same happened to Thiem when he was ahead 6-5. Then to add to the drama the world No.3 also had a medical time out between. He had hurt his Achilles prior to the final and looked to be in pain at times.

Eventually, it would be two points that would separate the two. At 6-6 in the tiebreaker a passing winner from Thiem granted him his third championship point, which he converted after a Zverev backhand went wild. Prompting the Austrian to drop onto the ground in disbelief whilst his rival was in tears moments afterwards.

“I don’t know where to start. I’d like to congratulate Dominic on the first of many Grand Slam titles. It was a tough battle – I wish you would have missed a little more,” said Zverev.
“Here I am giving a runner-up speech. Thanks to my team for sticking with me – the last two years have not been easy – hopefully one day we will lift this trophy.
“I want to thank my parents. I’m sure they are sitting at home, even though I lost they’re pretty proud. I wish one day that I can bring the troph
y home.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s New York event took place behind closed doors for the first time in history. Players were kept in a ‘protective bubble’ and even restricted as to where they could travel. Although Thiem has hailed the tournament for their approach.

“To the USTA and everyone who made this event happen, you did an awesome job. I think the players felt super safe in the bubble, in the hotel, and I couldn’t believe until I got here that this would happen. At such a difficult time, you did a great job. I think we all deserve a normal US Open in 2021 with full crowds and I think this is the wish of everybody,” he said.

Thiem is just the fifth player in the Open Era to have won a Grand Slam final after losing the first two sets.

ATP

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic Seals Final Showdown With Tsitsipas After Paul Victory

Novak Djokovic will look to capture his tenth Australian Open title on Sunday.

Published

on

Novak Djokovic (@atptour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic is into the Australian Open final after a 7-5 6-1 6-2 victory over Tommy Paul.

 

Djokovic will have the chance to claim his tenth Australian Open title and his 22nd Grand Slam title after a dominant straight sets victory.

Paul gave a good account of himself in his first Grand Slam semi-final but was ultimately outmuscled by Djokovic.

Djokovic’s bid for history will now go through Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday.

Competing in his first Grand Slam semi-final, Paul settled into the match playing some dynamic tennis to force Djokovic into early errors.

Djokovic started the match in rather erratic fashion but managed to save a break point to hold in the opening game.

However the former world number one found his range eventually as some world-class returning capitalised on nerves from the American as he broke and held for a 3-0 lead.

The Serb’s variety in pace and depth of shot was too much for the American as he dictated the tempo of the rallies.

Once Paul held serve to settle into the match in the fourth game, Djokovic’s onslaught continued as another break in the next return game secured another break and a comfortable 5-1 lead.

What would follow would not be in the script though as Djokovic produced more and more errors with Paul’s stubborn and dynamic style finding confidence as he punched holes through the Serb’s game.

Djokovic couldn’t convert set point and was broken twice as Paul reeled off four games in a row to level the opening set at 5-5.

In the end Djokovic would produce his best tennis when it mattered most with the Serb holding to love and then breaking on his first opportunity to take a tight opening set 7-5.

Although the opening set was littered with errors and erratic from both players, Djokovic produced a consistent standard in the next two sets as he improved the level on serve.

Once again Djokovic took a 5-1 lead in the second set and despite late resilience from Paul, the Serb held his nerve to wrap up a two sets to love lead.

The world number 35 had his moments of world-class tennis but ultimately it was Djokovic who was too strong as a further two breaks of serve sealed his place in a tenth Australian Open final.

After the match Djokovic commented on the state of his hamstring injury, “It’s great, and perfect and 100%,” Djokovic gladly commented in his on-court interview.

“Yeah – we’ll say against Stefanos in two days! Of course you are not as fresh as at the beginning of the tournament but we put in a lot of of hours in the off season. I know what’s expected and I have been in so many positions in my career.

“It’s a great battle, with yourself and the opponent. Long rallies and you could feel the heavy legs in the first set but I was fortunate to hold my nerves. After that I was swinging through the ball more and I am just pleased to get through another final.”

Djokovic and Tsitsipas will face each other in a second Grand Slam final after Djokovic won the Roland Garros final in 2021 in five sets.

Continue Reading

ATP

Australian Open Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals

Published

on

On Friday in Melbourne, the men’s singles semifinals will be played.

On Friday in Melbourne, the men’s singles semifinals will be played.

 

Novak Djokovic is just two matches away from tying Rafael Nadal with 22 Major singles titles, the most-ever in men’s singles.  Djokovic is 18-0 in Australian Open semifinals and finals, and hasn’t lost a match in Australia in over five years.  Can anyone prevent the nine-time champion from winning this event for a 10th time?

In the semifinals, Djokovic faces Tommy Paul, who prior to this fortnight had never advanced beyond the fourth round at a Major.  In the other men’s semifinal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is 0-3 in Australian Open semis, takes on Karen Khachanov, who is into his second semifinal in as many Majors.

Also on Friday, the women’s doubles semifinals will be played, as well as the mixed doubles championship match.  The women’s doubles semis include top singles names such as Barbora Krejcikova, Coco Gauff, and Jessica Pegula, while the mixed doubles final will serve as Sania Mirza’s retirement match.


Karen Khachanov (18) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) – Not Before 2:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Tsitsipas has achieved his fourth semifinal in Australia out of the last five years, but he is yet to advance farther.  And he’s only claimed one of 10 sets in his three previous Australian semis, losing to Rafael Nadal in 2019, and Daniil Medvedev in both 2021 and 2022.  Stefanos is now a perfect 9-0 in 2023, and has only dropped one set during this fortnight.

Khachanov is into his second consecutive Major semifinal.  The 26-year-old is vying for his first Slam final, and his first final at any event in over a year.  Karen has dropped two sets through five matches, and has now defeated three straight seeded players (Tiafoe, Nishioka, Korda).

Tsitsipas has dominated their rivalry to date, leading their head-to-head 5-0.  Four of those matches were on hard courts, and three of them were straight-set victories for the Greek.  As per Tennis Abstract, out of the 13 sets they’ve played, Karen has only managed to break seven times, while Stefanos has broken 17 times.  And with plenty of Greek support in the crowd at this event, Tsitsipas is a considerable favorite to reach his second Major final.


Novak Djokovic (4) vs. Tommy Paul – 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Djokovic has claimed 22 of his last 24 sets in Australian Open semifinals and finals, with the only two sets lost both coming in the 2020 final against Dominic Thiem.  His domination in the last two rounds of this tournament throughout his career is only rivaled by that of Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.  Despite the hamstring injury that Novak suffered leading up to this tournament, he has only dropped one set to this stage.  In his last six sets, he’s only allowed his opposition an average of two games per set.

Paul has taken advantage of an open quarter of the draw, in which seven of the eight seeds lost within the first two rounds (Ruud, Fritz, Zverev, Berrettini, Schwartzman, Kecmanovic, Davidovich Fokina).  Yet even as many pointed to Tommy as the favorite to make the semis amidst younger, inexperienced Americans in this quarter (Brooksby, Wolf, Shelton), Paul did not faulter.  The 25-year-old is one of the fastest players on tour, and will debut inside the top 20 on Monday.

In their first career meeting, of course Djokovic is a huge favorite.  Prior to this fortnight, Paul had only once reached the second week of a Major, when he advanced to the fourth round six months ago at Wimbledon.  As per ESPN’s Brad Gilbert, Novak has beefed up his forehand this fortnight, averaging five mph’s more on that wing than a year ago.  And he’s also been serving excellently – Djokovic has only been broken three times in the entire tournament, with all three breaks coming against Grigor Dimitrov.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna vs. Luisa Stefani and Rafael Motos – This is Mirza’s last event before retirement, following a storied doubles career where she has won three Majors in women’s doubles and three Majors in mixed doubles.  Her and Mahesh Bhupathi won this event as a team 14 years ago, the first of Sania’s six Slam titles.  Bopanna won the mixed doubles event at Roland Garros in 2017.  Stefani was a bronze medalist in women’s doubles at the Tokyo Olympics.  This is a first Major final for both her and Motos.

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) vs. Marta Kostyuk and Elena-Gabriela Ruse – Krejcikova and Siniakova have won six Majors as a team, three of which came last year, including this tournament.  This is Kostyuk and Ruse’s first event as a team since Roland Garros, where they made the quarterfinals.

Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (10) vs. Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula (2) – Gauff and Pegula were finalists at Roland Garros last June.  This is Aoyama and Shibahara’s third Major semifinal, but they’re yet to go farther at a Slam.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

Continue Reading

ATP

Australian Open Daily Preview: The Women’s Semifinals

Published

on

Elena Rybakina on Tuesday in Melbourne (twitter.com/australianopen)

On Thursday night in Melbourne, the women’s singles semifinals will be played.

 

The first semifinal is a battle between two Major singles champions, as reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina takes on two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.  The second semifinal sees four-time Slam semifinalist Aryna Sabalenka against Magda Linette, who had never advanced beyond the third round of a Major prior to this fortnight.

Also on Thursday, the men’s doubles semifinals will be played, starting at 1:00pm local time.


Elena Rybakina (22) vs. Victoria Azarenka (24) – 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Rybakina has only dropped one set to this stage, to last year’s finalist Danielle Collins in the third round.  She’s looking to defeat a third consecutive Major champion, after taking out Iga Swiatek and Jelena Ostapenko in the last two rounds.  And Elena is vying for her second final out of the last three Slams.

Azarenka dropped the opening set in both her third and fourth round matches, but still won both of those rather comfortably.  And in the quarterfinals, she soundly defeated World No.3 Jessica Pegula.  This is Vika’s first Australian Open semifinal in 10 years, since her back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.  Overall it’s her ninth Major semifinal, and she holds a record of 5-3 previously.  Though notably, she’s 5-0 in Major semis on hard courts.

Their only previous meeting occurred last March at Indian Wells, where Rybakina prevailed 6-3, 6-4.  However, at a tournament where Azarenka’s greatest success has happened, and in a round of hard court Majors where she’s been untouchable, it may be a big ask for Elena to overcome the two-time champion.  But it’s clear Rybakina feels she has something to prove, as she’s spoken openly regarding feeling slighted by the lack of ranking points, and lack of respectful scheduling, she’s received for her Wimbledon victory.  And these fast-playing courts in Melbourne reward her aggressive game.  I give Elena the slight edge to prevail on Thursday.


Magda Linette vs. Aryna Sabalenka (5) – Last on Rod Laver Arena

Sabalenka is now a perfect 9-0 to start the year, and 18-0 in sets.  As per ESPN, she is just the sixth woman to win her first four Major quarterfinals, joining the impressive company of Ann Jones, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Elena Dementieva, and Naomi Osaka.  However, Aryna is 0-3 in Slam semifinals, having lost all three of those matches 6-4 in the third.

Linette is one of the more surprising Major semifinalists in recent memory.  Prior to this event, she was just 18-29 lifetime at Slams, and 0-5 in the third round.  But the veteran has now defeated four seeded players in a row (Kontaveit, Alexandrova, Garcia, Pliskova), and has only dropped one set in doing so.

Sabalenka is 2-0 against Linette, with both matches taking place on hard courts, and neither match being close.  Five years ago in Tianjin, Aryna won 6-1, 6-3.  Two years ago at the Tokyo Olympics, Aryna won 6-2, 6-1.  But I expect Sabalenka to tighten up on Thursday, as she’s fully aware of her painful history in this round of Majors.  And her double fault issues of the past resurfaced a bit during Wednesday’s quarterfinal, striking nine in total.  Linette is a smart, steady player who can take advantage if Sabalenka begins to commit unforced errors, which she can often do in bunches.  Despite all that, I still favor the power game of Aryna, and her improved second serve, to advance her into her first Major final.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin vs. Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski – Chardy and Martin took out the third-seeded team of Arevalo and Rojer in the last round.  Nys and Zielinski eliminated the second-seeded team of Ram and Salisbury earlier in the tournament.

Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler (WC) vs. Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (8) – This is the Australian team of Hijikata and Kubler’s first event as a team, and they upset the top-seeded team of Koolhof and Skupski in the quarterfinals.  Granollers and Zeballos are looking to reach their third Major final of their partnership.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending