Austria’s Dominic Thiem advanced to his second Grand Slam final of 2020, digging out a win over third seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev at the U.S. Open on Friday.
“For sure (it was) the toughest straight-sets win I ever had because could have been easily completely different,” said Thiem, who will compete for his first-ever Grand Slam title in the men’s final on Sunday against Germany’s Alexander Zverev.
Thiem seized the early momentum inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium, handily carrying the first set without dropping a single first-serve point, but a double fault and a forehand error saw him hand Medvedev the break and the early lead in the second.
Thiem, who has lost in three Grand Slam finals and never claimed a major title, spent the remainder of the set playing catch up, converting on a critical break to level the score 5-5 before the 24-year-old Russian dragged it into a tiebreak.
Medvedev kept his energy up as he traded blows with his opponent, triumphing in an epic, 33-shot rally early in the tiebreak, but his efforts came up short.
“He just doesn’t miss when I play with his rhythm. So I tried to destroy that a little bit with lot of slices, with also high balls with a lot of spin. That was what was the plan,” Thiem said.
The 27-year-old Thiem, who had a trainer examine his ankle before the third set, slipped and fell twice in the match, unfurling a string of frustrated exclamations the second time he did so. But he regained his cool to survive yet another tiebreak and clinched the affair with a power forehand and a roar.
“I played my best tennis then towards the end of the sets,” said Thiem, who saved six of eight break point opportunities during the match, committing a dozen fewer unforced errors than his opponent.
“Both tiebreaks were amazing. Tiebreaks are mentally a tough thing. I don’t like them at all to be honest,” he said. “I’m really happy to be through. It was a great semi-final.”
Medvedev, who fired off a dozen aces on the match, showed shades of his bad boy persona seen in his 2019 run to the U.S. Open final. He offered a sarcasm-drenched apology in the first set after crossing to the other side of the net to lobby for a late challenge, earning a violation in the process.
“I think I killed someone, right?” he said to a tournament supervisor in the stands, adding to the umpire, “My sincere apologies for crossing the net.”