Alexander Zverev had to do something he’s never done before to reach his first Grand Slam final. The much-hyped German finally made a Slam final but had to overcome an 0-2 set deficit to do it beating Pablo Carreno Busta 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
The 23-year-old Zverev played a miserable first two sets before find some form to edge a tightening Spaniard.
“I looked at the scoreboard after two sets,” Zverev said. “I thought to myself, Look, I’m playing a Grand Slam semifinal, I’m down 6-3, 6-2 in a match where on paper I’m supposed to be the favorite.
“I needed to play better, start something new. I thought, Okay, I’m going to go set by set, we’ll see how far I can get. It turned out well in the end.
“Obviously it was very close. Pablo deserved to be in the final just as much as I did. Yeah, a few points here or there on either side of the match.”
The highlight of the match was its end as the much of the 3h23m affair was filled with errors, lackluster points and general poor play.
Early on, Zverev struggled with his serve and just about everyone else. Carreno Busta was steady, but even he was struggling at times holding his weaker serve. Finally, in the third, his serve issues caught up and Zverev got enough confidence to make it a match.
Zverev had been 0-6 in Grand Slams after being down two sets. This was his first and greatest such comeback.
“Mentally I stayed in it,” he said. “Even though I was down two sets to love, I stayed in it. I gave myself the best chance I could.
“Today I dug deep, dug very deep. At the end of the day I’m sitting here as the winner of that match, which could have been very different.”
Zverev becomes the first German man to make the US Open final since Michael Stich lost to Andre Agassi in 1994.
In the final, Zverev will face the tenacious Dominic Thiem who got past Daniil Medvedev in straight sets 6-2, 7-6(7), 7-6(5). It will be Thiem’s fourth Grand Slam final.
“I love these big matches. To face the best guys in the world is what I do the hard work for at home and in the off-season,” Thiem told the crowd. “After the first set, it was great tennis from both of us. I could have easily been down two-sets-to-one. I’m really happy to be through. It was a great semifinal.”
While Medvedev has the defensive skills, the Russian couldn’t match the power off the ground from Thiem when it mattered the most. And Thiem took two breakers from Medvedev who hadn’t lost a tiebreak in New York.
Medvedev finished with 45 unforced errors to Thiem’s 33. He was also broken four times in the match after losing serve just three times in five rounds coming in against Thiem.
“What I would do different in this semifinal?” Medvedev asked. “Probably not much. I mean, we can talk about some shots, losing concentration in the first set. But Dominic played really good.
“Tennis is all about small points. Sometimes you win these points; sometimes you lose them. Today I lost the most important points. That’s how he got the win. But I think it was really high-level tennis and Dominic was playing really good.”
Thiem did tweak his heel at the end of the second set, but in the third was able to rally from a break down and then hang on in the tiebreaker. Just a shoe issue he said after the match.
Sunday will see a new Grand Slam champion crowned. Thiem and Zverev met in the Australian Open semifinals which was won by the Austrian in four very tough sets.
Overall, Thiem leads 7-2 having won the last three meetings. And instead of facing Rafael Nadal on clay or Novak Djokovic in Australia, he’ll be the favorite to become the first new Grand Slam champion since Marin Cilic six years ago.
“It’s all or nothing,” Thiem said of the final. “It’s going to be a completely open match.
“I’m really looking forward to that. We have such a great friendship and rivalry. It’s amazing that we’re going to face each other in a Grand Slam final.”
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