Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem will aim to be the first male player born in the 1990s to lift a grand slam title as they battle it out in the finals on Sunday at the Flushing Meadows in New York. Both had contrasting wins on Friday, Zverev coming from two sets down for the first time in his career , while Thiem came from one break of serve down in both the second and third sets before setting up a tenth career meeting between the duo.
Zverev, winner of three Masters titles and the World Tour Final in 2018, finally breaks through with a maiden entry on the big stage in a Grand slam final and with it a chance to become the first German male player since Boris Becker won a major at the Australian Open in 1996, and also the first to win a U.S. Open title since Becker won in 1989. Zverev, seeded fifth dropped the first two sets tamely against the Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, seeded 20th, before rallying to win 3-6,6-2,6-3,6-4,6-3 in three hours and twenty two minutes. Zverev improves to 14-6 in five set match but will have his hands full in the final against the 27 year old Austrian who enjoys a 7-2 career head to head over Zverev, having also won the last three meetings between the two.
For the second consecutive match Zverer had his backs to the wall against the 27th ranked Busta, who was bidding to become the second lowest player in U.S Open history after the South African Kevin Anderson, who was ranked 32 when he reached the final in 2017, the same year in which Busta reached the last four. Zverev picked up his game overcoming the string of unforced errors and ended up with an impressive tally of 71 winners to enter his first grand slam final on his 18th attempt. He is also the first German since Michael Stich to reach the final in 1994.
Thiem, seeded second is now the favourite to lift his maiden grand slam title and erase the disappointment of his three previous appearances. Having finished runner up to Rafael Nadal in the last two edition of the French Open, Thiem had come within a set of dethroning Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January this year before losing in five sets. In the words of his opponent Daniil Medvedev, last year’s finalist, Thiem played “Like a Champion” as he overcame break of serve in both the second and third set and also required a medical time out as he injured his right leg in the second set tie-break. After winning the first set comprehensively Thiem registered what he termed it as one of the hardest straight sets win, 6-2,7-6(7),7-6(5) in just under three hours on the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Medvedev, who last year came from two sets down in the final against Nadal, failed to serve out both the sets as Thiem played the important points well when it mattered most, taking advantage of 44 unforced errors from the third seeded Russian. Medvedev also had 12 aces, while Thiem served only two. Medvedev, a winner of two Masters title in Cincinnati and Shanghai last year, drops to 1-3 in career meetings to the Austrian, who won his only Masters title at Indian Wells last year. He will also bid to be the first player from Austria to win a grand slam title in 25 years, Thomas Muster winning his only major at the Roland Garros in 1995.
Prediction : Thiem in maximum 4 sets.
Naomi Osaka of Japan has captured her third grand slam title as she rallied from a set and break down to end the run of Victoria Azarenka of Belarus as she won 1-6,6-3,6-3 on Saturday. The 2018 champion had also triumphed at the Australian Open in 2019 when she became the world number One. Azarenka a two time Australian Open titlist, looked in outstanding form in what was her third final at the Flushing Meadows as she breezed through the opening set with two breaks of serve.
The 22 year old Osaka, dropped serve early on in the second set before leveling the score at 2-2 and seized control of the match with a break of serve in the eighth game as she becomes the first player in 26 years to win the title clash after dropping the first set against the 29 year ikd Azarenka, a former finalist in 2012 and 2013 in New York when she lost to Serena Williams on both occassions. Osaka is now 3-0 in major finals. She joins Virginia Wade, Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport to win first three major finals.
Earlier on Thursday, Azarenka ended the bid of Serena Williams’s quest for a 24th title as she rallied from a set down before winning 1-6,6-3,6-3, identical scoreline as the final. Osaka, also needed three sets to outlast the American Jennifer Brady in a 7-6(1),3-6,6-3 win in the first semi final. The 25 year old Brady had 10 aces to Osaka’s 9 in her maiden semi final appearance at a major.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]