US Open Day 14 Preview: Dominic Thiem And Alexander Zverev To Lock Horns For Maiden Grand Slam Title - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 14 Preview: Dominic Thiem And Alexander Zverev To Lock Horns For Maiden Grand Slam Title

Thiem dominates his rival in their head-to-head but Zverev have already proven in the tournament he has what it takes to fight back when needed.

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Dominic Thiem on Arthur Ashe Stadium (usopen.org)

Either Dominic Thiem or Sascha Zverev will win their first Major title on Sunday.

 

Dominic Thiem spent much of his career categorized as a clay court specialist who struggled outside the terra boute.  The 27-year-old has claimed 10 clay titles, and reached the semifinals or better the last four years at Roland Garros.  But over the last few years, his results have drastically improved on hard courts.  He was the champion at Indian Wells last season, and a finalist at both the ATP Finals and the Australian Open.  Thiem has now reached his second consecutive Major final, and his fourth overall.  As he mentioned in Friday’s post-match interview, he is looking to avoid joining players like Andy Murray in losing their first four Slam finals.  This is the best opportunity he’s had yet, in his first Major final without Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic as opposition.

Sascha Zverev has long been expected to be a future Major champion.  But his previous performances at the Slams were disappointing.  Between 2017 and 2019, Zverev won three Masters 1,000 titles, was a finalist at three other Masters events, and claimed the 2018 ATP Finals.  During that same span, he only reached two Major quarterfinals, both at Roland Garros.  But that changed this year, when he advanced to his first semifinal in Melbourne.  And now he has taken advantage of an open draw to reach his first championship match at a Major. 

Dominic Thiem (2) vs. Sascha Zverev

These two friends have played nine times, with Thiem prevailing on seven of those occasions.  Zverev’s only two victories have come in best-of-three matches.  At Majors, Thiem is 3-0.  On hard courts, Dominic leads 3-1, with Sascha’s win occurring four years ago.  They also met at the most recent Major, with Thiem winning in four sets at January’s Australian Open.  Based on their history, and their individual Slam experience, Thiem is the favorite.  However, both men are well aware of that, which may impact their play.  Dominic knows this is easily his best chance to win a Major, and that he’s expected to do so.  And while a Slam final is new territory for Sascha, the German may play more freely knowing the pressure is more on Thiem.  Unlike Friday’s semifinal against Pablo Carreno Busta, where Zverev played an extremely tight first two sets as the heavy favorite, I suspect he’ll be much tougher from the start today. 

As ugly as that semifinal was, Sascha should be applauded for fighting back from two sets down.  And notably, he’s reached his first Major final without his father/coach with him in New York, and without the presence of his team’s newest member, David Ferrer.  While Zverev is surely in close contact with them, securing six wins without their attendance exhibits growth.  But over the course of five sets, Thiem is usually the steadier player.  Zverev can often regress to his passive, error-prone ways.  And Sascha’s second serve remains an issue, especially under pressure.  Through six rounds, Zverev has struck 49 double faults.  That won’t work against a player who has broken serve 32 times during this fortnight.  While the pressure will be more on Thiem, the Austrian has plenty of experience in the latter stages of Majors.  Dominic is the favorite to become the ATP’s first maiden Slam winner since Marin Cilic at the 2014 US Open.

Five things to know about the final

  1. Thiem is seeking to become the second Austrian man to win a major title after Thomas Muster at the 1995 French Open.
  2. Zverev is the youngest major finalist in men’s tennis since Novak Djokovic at the 2010 US Open. Victory would make him the youngest Grand Slam winner since Juan Martin del Potro’s triumph in New York back in 2009.
  3. Whoever wins will become the 150th male player in tennis history to win their maiden major title. The last person to do so was Marin Cilic back in 2014.
  4. Heading into the final Zverev has spent a total of 17 hours and 16 minutes on the court during his six previous rounds. This is almost four hours more than Thiem’s tally of 13 hours and 28 minutes. Furthermore, the German has only faced one top-25 seed in his previous rounds compared to Thiem who has played three.
  5. Thiem leads their head-to-head 7-2 and has won all three of their previous meetings in grand slams.

The head-to-head breakdown

YearEventSurfaceRNDWinnerResult
2020Australian Open
Australia
Outdoor HardSFDominic Thiem36 64 763 764
2019Nitto ATP Finals
Great Britain
Indoor HardSFDominic Thiem75 63
2018Roland Garros
France
Outdoor ClayQFDominic Thiem64 62 61
2018ATP Masters 1000 Madrid
Spain
Outdoor ClayFAlexander Zverev64 64
2017Rotterdam
Netherlands
Indoor HardR32Dominic Thiem36 63 64
2016Beijing
China
Outdoor HardR32Alexander Zverev46 61 63
2016Roland Garros
France
Outdoor ClayR32Dominic Thiem674 63 63 63
2016Nice
France
Outdoor ClayFDominic Thiem64 36 60
2016Munich
Germany
Outdoor ClaySFDominic Thiem46 62 63

Grand Slam

Steve Flink: “Djokovic and Nadal will end up with more Slams than Federer”

A final word on the 2021 Australian Open. Thiem was the biggest letdown of the fortnight, but which was the best match or the biggest upset?

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The men’s singles at the Australian Open ended in the most predictable way, with Novak Djokovic clinching his ninth title. However, the road to victory was laden with difficulties, as Hall-of-Famer tennis writer Steve Flink highlights in his third video chat about the tournament with Ubitennis founder and CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta. How close is the Next Gen to pushing out the Big Three? Was this Karatsev’s one shining moment or will he keep shocking the tennis world? This and more in the following chat:

 

0:00 – The men’s final: “I wasn’t sure Djokovic would be able to pull this off after his injury against Fritz, but after he beat Zverev I knew he’d win again.” Was such a trouncing of Medvedev at all predictable though?

5:00 – The keys to the Serbian’s masterclass win.

8:10 – “Medvedev had won most of his last meetings with Djokovic, but a Major final is a different story…” Did Djokovic actually tear an abdominal muscle?

14:30 – How close is the Next Gen to actually taking over?

17:30 – What was the impact of the 2-week quarantine on the tournament? “Many players struggled with injuries throughout the fortnight, but others, like Nadal, were already ailing at the beginning of the event.”

20:40 – Can Federer make another comeback? “His serve is so good that he can win many quick points, that will help him even if his fitness level isn’t up to par.”

24:30 – The best match of the tournament was…

29:45 – Who was the outbreak star? This is an easy one…

32:20 – What about the biggest letdown?

37:20 – A look into the future: will Djokovic end up surpassing Federer and Nadal’s 20-Slam tally?  

41:30 – The Serbian is also about to break the record for the most weeks spent at the top of the rankings – will he remain the world N.1 for much longer?

Transcript by Antonio Flagiello; edited by Tommaso Villa

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Grand Slam

The Most Emotional Moments From The 2021 Australian Open

With everything going on in the world, and the 14 days of quarantine players went through before playing this event, it’s no surprise there were so many emotional moments during this past fortnight.

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Alexei Popyrin provided a refreshing dose of excitement with a loud Aussie crowd in attendance (ausopen.com)

The first Grand Slam of 2021 provided the tennis world with plenty of tears and jubilation throughout it’s two-week period. There was epic match comebacks, injury misfortunes and victories for those who has been absent from the game in recent months due to a variety of issues. UbiTennis looks back at those emotional moments that took place during the Australian Open.

 

Gael Monfils in tears after his first round loss

Prior to the pandemic, Monfils had won two consecutive titles in Montpellier and Rotterdam.  But since the tour restart, he’s now 0-6, and lost in five sets in the opening round to Emil Ruusuvuori.  His comments are in French, but he was asking for “mercy” during his press conference.

“I don’t have any confidence. I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can’t,” Monfils said.
“I don’t know when it’s going to end. It’s hard. Every time I get here I feel judged, I’ve lost again. I can’t serve, I’m playing badly. I’m being honest and it’s going to take time.”

Bianca Andreescu wins her first match in 16 months

The 2019 US Open champion didn’t play at all in 2020, due to injuries and pandemic restrictions.  She’s described many low moments she experienced during that time.  And after going through 14 days of hard quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne, with her coach testing positive for COVID-19, the Canadian was holding back tears after winning her opening round in three sets.

“I feel pretty damn good,” Andreescu said afterwards in an on-court interview. “I mean the match wasn’t easy at all and I’m super, super happy with how I fought it out, especially towards the end.”

Alexei Popyrin saves match points to stun David Goffin

This was the first exciting match to take place in front of a full audience in nearly a year, as Aussies packed Court 3 to cheer on the comeback win of the 21-year-old Australian.  Popyrin saved four match points in the fourth set tiebreak, and the crowd reaction to his victory sounded amazing.

“I think it just shows that the work I did in pre-season, the mentality that I’ve taken on this year is all paying off, and my game is improving, and I can feel that,” Popryin commented on his victory.

Thanasi Kokkinakis wins his first match since 2019

Kokkinakis’ struggles with injuries over the years are well-documented, so it’s understandable the 24-year-old Aussie was brought to tears in picking up his first tour-level win in 18 months, especially at his home Slam.

“At 5-0 (in the third set) I felt this massive roar and cheer from the crowd and I started tearing up,” Kokkinakis said.
“It was a bit of a soft moment but there was just so much stuff behind the scenes to get back to that point that not a lot of people realise.
I definitely got a bit emotional.
“I had a lot of friends and family there watching. They probably made up about 90 per cent of the stands, so I’m appreciative of that.
“Just playing with that energy and crowd and being able to win – there was so much work behind the scenes and so much pain – it’s just a massive relief.”

In the second round Kokkinakis took Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets before getting knocked out of the tournament.

 Venus Williams suffers a nasty ankle injury

This was hard to watch.  Venus screamed out in pain and hobbled around the court after injuring her ankle.  And she had arrived on court with an injured knee.  After a long timeout to address both injuries, with a despondent Venus in tears, she showed her grit by finding a way to finish out the match in the event’s most inspiring moment.

You can’t always prepare for the triumph of the disaster in sports or in life. “You can’t control it all. What you can control is how you handle the ups and the downs,” Williams later wrote on Instagram.
“No matter the outcome I always hold my head high and I leave everything I have on the court.
“I never look back in regrets because no matter the odds I give it all.
“You don’t have to look back when you leave it all out there. Always look forward, the deepest dream you could be…”

Nick Kyrgios saved two match points in a five-set epic

In another emotional moment involving an Australian, Kyrgios’ epic 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 win over Ugo Humbert was a thrilling affair on Nick’s favorite court, John Cain Area.

If you were in my head, I was just thinking about all the s*** I was going to cop if I lost that match,” Kyrgios told the Nine Network after the match.
“I don’t know how I did that, honestly, it’s one of the craziest matches I’ve ever played.”

Kyrgios lost in the third round to Dominic Thiem.

Donna Vekic in tears after ousting Kaia Kanepi

Vekic was immediately in tears after converting her own match point, advancing to the second week of the tournament despite losing six straight matches coming into this event.

Matteo Berrettini battles through pain to defeat Khachanov

The Italian suffered an abdominal injury during the third set, and was teary-eyed after closing out the match in straights.  He would have to withdraw from his fourth round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas due to the injury.

““I felt something on my ab. I thought that [it] wasn’t something really big, but the next day when I woke up I felt it was big. So I spoke to the doctors and they told me, ‘Look, it can get [much] worse’. So it’s not worth trying. I’m not 100 per cent. To beat these guys, you have to be 100 per cent. I think it’s not really professional to step [onto court] when you’re not the best.” Berrettini commented on his injury.

Stefanos Tsitsipas fights back to defeat Rafael Nadal

Tsitsipas became only the second man to ever do so at a Grand Slam event, and described himself as “speechless” when interviewed after the match.

Serena Williams’ wave goodbye after her semifinal loss

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1362260576446132226

This felt like more than simply “See you next year, Melbourne.” Serena stopped her stride as she exited the court, waving and placing a hand to her heart. After being asked about the moment in press, she broke down and quickly exited the room.

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ATP

Novak Djokovic Captures Record Ninth Australian Open Title With Clinical Win over Medvedev

The world No.1 toppled his lacklustre opponent who produced a series of costly unforced errors to seal his 18th major title at Melbourne Park.

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Novak Djokovic has extended his dominance at the Australian Open by comprehensively beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, to clinch an historic ninth title in Melbourne Park.

 

The showdown on the Rod Laver Arena was between two giants of the current game. Djokovic is the most decorated male player in Australian Open history and has recorded 11 consecutive wins over top 10 players in the tournament prior to the final. Meanwhile, Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak with 12 of those victories being against a member of the top 10. However, a large majority of the encounter was dominated by the top seed who produced a total of 20 winners as he broke seven times en route to victory.

“I really like him as a person off the court. On the court, he’s definitely one of the toughest players I ever faced in my life,” Djokovic said of his rival during the trophy ceremony.
“It’s a matter of time that you will hold a Grand Slam for sure – if you don’t mind waiting a few more years…”

For the first time in the Open Era the men’s final was being contested by the first and fourth seeds in what was a battle from the onset. Playing on what he describes as his ‘home court’ Djokovic was the quicker of the two to settle into the match after a forehand down the line from the Serbian triggered a Medvedev error to give him a break en route to a 3-0 lead. Eventually Medvedev regained his footing as he gave his rival a dose of his own medicine by winning three games in a row to draw level. Both illustrated glimpses of their best tennis with sublime defensive play but it was the world No.1 who has the edge in the opener. Leading 6-5 a blistering Djokovic backhand passing shot handed him a trio of break points to clinch the set. He failed in his first two attempts, but it was third time lucky after the Russian fired a forehand shot into the net.

The thunderous hitting continued into the second frame as players started to contend with an increasingly animated crowd who had to be told repeatedly to stay quiet during points. One of the disturbances was a refugee protest which involved the removal of two people. On the court Djokovic once again traded breaks with his rival early on before pulling away with the help of some costly Medvedev mistakes. Prompting the world No.4 to smash one of his rackets out of anger and received a code violation for doing so as he fell behind 2-5. Medvedev’s mood deteriorated further in the next game as the top seed returned a serve deep to the baseline to clinch a two-set lead.

source – AusOpen Twitter

Winning all the mini battles that were fought, Djokovic’s offensive was one that drew his rival to despair who continuously made glimpses towards his camp in the crowd. Mentally Medvedev was done as Djokovic masterfully manoeuvred his way to the trophy once again. A three-game winning streak at the start of the third set placed him within touching distance of the win. Enough of a margin to see him over the finish live as he clinched victory on his first championship point after hitting an overhead volley. Prompting Djokovic to fall to the floor.

“I would like to thank my team,” said the nine-time champion. “It has been a roller-coaster ride for me, especially in the last couple of weeks but always a special thanks to you. You have dedicated so much time making sure I’m able to play and I am grateful to you. Thank you guys, I love you.’
“Last but not least, I would like to thank this court and the Rod Laver Arena. It’s a love affair that keeps going.”

It is the second time that 25-year-old Medvedev has lost in a major final after doing so to Nadal at the 2019 US Open. Although he remains one of the most likely candidates to take over the reign of the Big Three in the years to come. Since the start of 2020 he has won 38 Tour matches which is the third highest on the ATP after Djokovic and Andrey Rublev.

“(It’s) Never easy to speak when you just lost a Grand Slam final, but I’ll do my best!” said Medvedev.
“Congrats to Novak. Nine Slams in Australia is amazing and this won’t be your last one. Just to tell you a small story, I first met Novak when I was 500 or 600 in the world. I thought OK, he’s not going to speak to me, because he was world number one.’
“I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He’s never changed – he’s always been a great sport and a great friend.”

The triumph has given Djokovic his 18th Grand Slam title which is just two away from the all-time record currently held by both Nadal and Roger Federer. He has now won a record nine titles in Melbourne Park which makes him only the second male player in history to have won the same major title that amount of times. Nadal has 13 French Open titles to his name. It is also the fifth time in his career Djokovic has successfully defended his title at the Australian Open.

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