It’s been a long time coming but there will finally be a 90s-born winner of a grand slam in the men’s game. Dominic Thiem will be hoping it is fourth time lucky for him in a slam while opponent Alexander Zverev is in a final for the first time, getting over his slam struggles with another great run in 2020. It is two finals from two for Thiem this year, having lost a five set thriller in Melbourne at the start of the year.
Zverev almost disappeared without a trace in his semi final, making a disastrous start against Pablo Carreno Busta. An error-strewn opening two sets saw him down 6-3 5-0 at one point, before eventually coming back to win 3-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-3. The German hit 36 unforced errors in the opening two sets before tidying things up in the last three sets with just 21 more. He broke early in the opener against the Spaniard, who took a medical timeout once more before the fifth set began. “I knew I had to play better. I’d never come back from two sets to love. That was the first time in my career. But I’m happy to do it at this stage, in the semi-final of a Grand Slam. I couldn’t be happier, but there’s still one more step to go for me.”
Dominic Thiem may have won his semi final in straight sets against Daniil Medvedev but the 6-2 7-6 7-6 win required an almighty effort and some unlikely comebacks to close it out in three. Medvedev had barely been broken all tournament so when he served for sets two and three, there will have been few expecting him to collapse once – never mind twice. As it was, Thiem delivered on the big moments at the back end of both of those sets. After breaking to stay in the second, he saved five more break points on serve in the very next game. “That was a great match on a very high level. [It] was probably the toughest straight-sets win I’ve ever had,” Thiem said. “I could have easily been one [or] two sets down. He served for the second and third sets. Luckily, I played my best tennis towards the end of both of these sets.”
After Novak Djokovic’s unlikely default earlier in the tournament, all pressure would have been diverted to this duo as well as Daniil Medvedev. Thiem and Zverev could have wilted under the pressure and expectation but both made it here, although with a few diversions along the way for Zverev.
The Austrian is reaping the rewards of an increased focus on hard courts, with several big titles and now a second slam final. He has to be considered the favourite for this one, especially with a 7-2 record against Zverev. One of those wins came at this year’s Australian Open with Thiem winning their semi final in four. Zverev’s highest level has been hard to touch at this year’s tournament and when his first serve is on, he remains hard to break. However, there have been some disastrous starts for him this fortnight. Thiem will not be so forgiving and this one could end quite badly if the German starts as slowly as he did against Borna Coric and Pablo Carreno Busta. Finding the right balance will be difficult for Zverev who will have to be controlled and measured in his aggression without giving the upper hand to Thiem who would be much stronger if it becomes a long and drawn out affair.
Prediction – Dominic Thiem in four sets