As expected, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem have reached Sunday’s final of the US Open when they will fight it out for the right to be called the 2020 champion for their first major title.
I knew that I had to come up with better tennis and I knew that I had to be more stable ... but I am through to my first grand slam final and that's all that matters Alexander Zverev
The two tennis gladiators arrived in the championship round having won very contrasting semi-finals with Zverev no doubt, thanking his lucky stars at having turned round a looming defeat to come through in five sets.
The fifth-seeded German looked spent from the start as his opponent Pablo Carreno Busta took control in the opening sets, but he overcame whatever problems he had to secure a thrilling 3-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-3 victory to reach his first grand slam tournament final.
Somehow, down two sets to love, Zverev, looking spent, listless and out on his feet, raised his game just in time to avert inevitable defeat and deny the 20th seeded Spaniard the upset he was well on his way to achieving.
It was difficult to see how Zverev could make a comeback. For a start he had never won a match from that position before and the errors were just rolling off his racket with 36 clocked up in the those opening two sets.
Suddenly a different player appeared on court, one much more like the player who had earned his position as fifth seed and the one everyone had prophesised over the last few days, would make the final from the top half of the draw.
“I was actually looking at the scoreboard when I was down two sets to love and I was like, ‘I can’t believe it, I am playing in the semi-final where I am supposed to be the favourite and I am down two sets to love,'” Zverev explained later.
“I knew that I had to come up with better tennis and I knew that I had to be more stable … but I am through to my first grand slam final and that’s all that matters.”
With the match now poised at two sets apiece, Carreno Busta took a medical timeout for treatment to his back. On resumption, Zverev, now striding about the court with a swagger, got the break he needed which set him well on course for the victory which should have been much easier than it had been.
Carreno Busta will look back and wonder what could have been. He had completely demoralised Zverev in the opening sets having held to love in the first game of the match, saved a break back point, and then strode out to a 5-1 lead before securing the set.
There was no change in the second as he attacked Zverev throughout to take a 5-0 lead before gaining what should have been solid platform to steer hm to victory.
But something obviously sparked off in the German’s mind. Perhaps it was the thought of the humiliation which awaited him had he lost in three.
Suddenly his serve started to hit its mark with more power and the pressure swung way from him onto his opponent s his own confidence started to grow.
Zverev, 23, who is bidding to become the first German grand slam champion since Boris Becker won the 1996 Australian Open, is now the youngest man to reach a grand slam final since Novak Djokovic (then also 23) lost to Rafael Nadal at the 2010 US Open but his next opponent will have something to say about that!
Dominic Thiem arrived in the championships round for his second grand slam final of the year but it wasn’t as clear cut as that for Daniil Medvedev, the third seed, was always going to prove a problem And so it proved despite it being a three set victory for the Austrian.
Once he had posted his 6-2 7-6(7) 7-6(5) result, Thiem expressed relief at the victory for having grabbed the early initiative and pocketing the opening set, he made a couple of errors on his serve to give Medvedev an early break and the lead in the second.
With the match now boiling up to become the clash everyone expected from these two, Thiem fought to try and level which he did critically in the 10th game to prevent Medvedev from serving out and then successfully claiming the 16-point tie-break.
The 27-year-old Austrian, who had a trainer examine his ankle before the third set, slipped and fell twice in the match, letting out a rant of annoyance on the second. Fortunately he wasn’t hampered and regained his composure to clinch after 2-hours, 55-minutes his allotted, as second seed, place in the final.
“I played my best tennis then towards the end of the sets,” said Thiem.
“Both tiebreaks were amazing. Tiebreaks are mentally a tough thing. I don’t like them at all to be honest.
“I’m really happy to be through. It was a great semi-final.”
Medvedev, who was playing his second US Open semi having reached the final last year, extracting energy from the crowd by antagonising them, could well have done with that sort of ‘support’ this year.
They would have made much of his burst of anger when facing breakpoint at 3-2 in the first set, a line call was missed.
The Russian struck his first serve well outside the service box, but it was not picked up by the line judge. Thiem returned the ball but Medvedev, expecting a call, reacted by dumping his reply in the net.
Things got worse when he tried to challenge the call, only for the umpire to deny him, saying he hadn’t challenged the first serve call early enough.
The umpire then rubbed salt in the wound, by issuing Medvedev with a code violation when he went to the other side of the net to point out where the serve had landed.
The now fired-up Russian argued with Australian match supervisor Wayne McEwen.
“The US Open is a joke. Ah, ah, I think I killed someone, right?” he exclaimed.
Medvedev didn’t recover his poise in that set and while he showed his talents in the next two, he failed to grasp the opportunities which were on offer.
Leaving the event, Medvedev tweeted: “Disappointed. Twice up a break in sets. All credit to @ThiemDomi. Thanks to the @usopen for the last 3 weeks. See you next year. Hopefully with a roaring crowd that loves me:):)”