“I had hoped that we could win both,” said Dominic Thiem after the nerve-racking finals at the US Open.
The words of the Austrian winner were addressed to Alexander Zverev, who was close to his first grand slam title, but lost in five sets. It finally became 2-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6 (6) after four hours of battle.
“Youre definitely going to make it and make your parents and family proud”, 27-year-old Thiem continued towards his four year younger friend. “We have known each other since 2014 and a good friendship has developed. Since 2016 we also have a nice rivalry”
Zverev heard it in tears. Shortly before, he had taken the floor, but in his speech he did not control the emotions. “I dont know where to start,” said the German after the final with a very entertaining apotheosis. “First of all, I would like to congratulate Dominic. I would have liked you to have missed some more balls and I wouldnt have done the runner-up speech. I hope one day I can take home the cup”
Both of them also explicitly addressed the organisation, as it was uncertain for a long time whether the tournament would take place. “Until I arrived here, I could not believe that this tournament would go ahead”, Thiem confessed. “It was not easy for you. Hopefully we will have full courts again in 2021. That is everyones wish.”
Thiem thinks a burden has fallen off his shoulders. “The question will be how I can deal with it mentally. I have, of course, never been in this position before. I have now achieved a great goal, I dont know how I will feel in the next few days”, he said.
“Because I have achieved this now, I think and hope that it will be a little easier and that I will be able to play more freely at the big tournaments in the future”, he said. The Austrian admitted that his nerves were holding him back at the beginning of the match and also in the fifth set when he had cramps just before the tiebreak.
“Somehow the mind was stronger than the body and Im very happy about that”, he said. “It was on my nerves. I didnt even know what that felt like or how to get rid of it. But in the third set it worked anyway.”
The second-placed Thiem started as a favourite in the finals against Zverev, the number 5 of the ranking. The fear of losing a grand final for the fourth time played tricks on the Austrian in the first two sets. “I dont think it helped me, because I was so tense in the beginning. Maybe it wasnt even good that I had played those earlier finals”
“I wanted this title so badly,” said Thiem. “Of course it was also in the back of my mind that if I lost it would be 0-4 in grandsam finals. Will this chance come again? Those kinds of thoughts make sure that you cant play your best tennis, that you dont play freely”