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2020 US Open: Men's final preview

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Roar Guru
12th September, 2020
4

And then there were two.

After a fortnight of jam-packed action and a major controversy involving Novak Djokovic, it is left to Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem to fight it out for the coveted US Open trophy.

Djokovic’s fourth-round disqualification against Pablo Carreno Busta guaranteed that for the first time since the 2014 US Open, we would have a brand new Grand Slam men’s champion and the first to be born in the 1990s.

It ends a streak of 13 straight Majors won by any of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, arguably three of the most celebrated men in modern tennis history.

With the aforementioned trio having dominated men’s tennis for most of the last 13 or so years, it is refreshing that finally, someone else will get the chance to salute on tennis’ big stage.

Djokovic’s default aside, Federer and Nadal are missing from the same Major for the first time since the 1999 US Open, with the former to not play again after undergoing knee surgery, and the other opting to focus on the upcoming clay-court season.

Often touted as the leaders of the so-called “next gen”, German fifth seed Zverev and Austrian second seed Thiem will battle it out to see who becomes the first man born in the 1990s to break through for his first Grand Slam title.

The duo, along with the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Borna Coric, Daniil Medvedev, Pablo Carreno Busta and Alex de Minaur, among others, have previously been exposed by their more experienced seniors at Majors in recent times.

Thiem, for one, has previously reached three Major finals but found himself unfortunate to have had to face Rafael Nadal in two French Open finals, as well as Novak Djokovic in this year’s Australian Open final.

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In the latter match, the recently-turned 27-year-old led by two sets to one, but lacked the confidence and experience to finish off the Serb, who won in a Major final for the first time after recovering from such a deficit.

Thus, Thiem will surely not want to let this chance slip by when he comes up against Zverev, who is the first German man to reach a Major final since Rainer Schuettler’s surprise run to the 2003 Australian Open final.

Alexander Zverev of Germany

(AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

The Austrian has dropped just one set (against 2014 champion Marin Cilic in the third round) en route to his fourth Major final and enters the championship match off the back of a hard-fought straight-sets victory against last year’s beaten finalist, Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev had served for both the second and third sets, but Thiem upped his game to break the Russian and steal them in tiebreaks, having won the opening set 6-2.

Beforehand, he was ruthless as he defeated first-time Major quarter-finalist Alex de Minaur in straight sets, but despite the one-sided scoreline, a closer look at the statistics will reveal that he was also made to work hard for it.

Zverev, meanwhile, appeared destined for more disappointment at a Major when he trailed Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta by two sets to love in the other semi-final.

However, the German was able to awake from the dead, taking the next two sets to force a one-set shootout, which he would win 6-3 to complete his first comeback from two sets down at a Grand Slam tournament.

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In previous matches, he defeated 2017 finalist Kevin Anderson in four sets in the first round, as well as 2013 boys’ champion Borna Coric in the quarter-finals, having to come from a set down to do so while also being stretched to tiebreaks in the second and third sets.

His run to the US Open final, the first by a German since Michael Stich in 1994, should finally bury his reputation as an underachiever at the Majors; despite the hype, he has only advanced to the quarter-finals at Roland Garros twice prior to this year.

Here is hoping that Zverev fares much better in a Grand Slam final than Rainer Schuettler did, where he was on the wrong end of a humiliating straight-sets defeat at the hands of Andre Agassi at Melbourne Park in 2003.

Alexander Zverev French Open.

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Now that you’ve got the info, it’s time to crunch the all-important numbers below as we get set to crown our second grand slam men’s champion of 2020.

US Open men’s final
[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) vs [2] Dominic Thiem (AUT)

Sunday, September 13, 4:00pm (Monday, September 14, 6:00am AEST)

Arthur Ashe Stadium

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Head-to-head
All matches: Thiem 7-2

At the grand slams: Thiem 3-0

In finals: Tied 1-all

Last meeting: Thiem won 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4), semi-final, 2020 Australian Open

Alexander Zverev’s road to the final
Round 1: defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-6 (7-2), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5

Round 2: defeated Brandon Nakashima (USA) 7-5, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3, 6-1

Round 3: defeated [32] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Round 4: defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-2, 6-2, 6-1

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Quarter-final: defeated [27] Borna Coric (CRO) 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-1), 6-3

Semi-final: defeated [20] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3

Dominic Thiem’s road to the final
Round 1: defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 0-0 ret.

Round 2: defeated Sumit Nagal (IND) 6-3, 6-3, 6-2

Round 3: defeated [31] Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

Round 4: defeated [15] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 6-1

Quarter-final: defeated [21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-1, 6-2, 6-4

Semi-final: defeated [3] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 6-2, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-5)

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The stats that matter
1. This is Alexander Zverev’s first Grand Slam final, while for Dominic Thiem this is his fourth Grand Slam final, second on hard courts this year and first at the US Open.

2. Zverev is the first German man to reach a Major final since Rainer Schuettler reached the final of the 2003 Australian Open. He is aiming to become the first man from his country to win a Major since Boris Becker at the 1996 Australian Open, and here at the US Open since 1989.

3. Thiem is the first Austrian man to reach the US Open final. He is looking to avoid joining the likes of Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray in losing his first four Major finals, having lost to Rafael Nadal at the French Open twice and to Novak Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open.

Dominic Thiem Laver Cup.

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

4. Zverev is the third different opponent to face Thiem in a Major final.

5. This is the first Grand Slam men’s final to guarantee a new champion since Marin Cilic defeated Kei Nishikori to win the 2014 US Open.

6. This is the first Grand Slam final to pit two men born in the 1990s against each other.

7. The champion will end a streak of 63 straight Major titles won by a man born in the 1980s (last – Gaston Gaudio, 2004 French Open), a streak of 14 won by a man older than the age of 30 (last – Andy Murray, Wimbledon 2016), and a streak of 13 won by either Djokovic, Nadal or Federer (last – Stan Wawrinka, 2016 US Open).

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8. This will, however, be the 42nd consecutive Major title to be won by a European man. The last non-European man to win a Major was Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open.

9. This will be their fourth meeting in a Major, with Dominic Thiem having won on three previous occasions, including in the semi-final of this year’s Australian Open. This will be their third meeting in a championship match anywhere.

Prediction
Dominic Thiem in four sets.