Britain’s Andy Murray is given a wildcard to the main draw of the French Open, which begins on 27 September.
Britain’s Andy Murray is given a wildcard to the main draw of the French Open, which begins on 27 September.
US Open champion Dominic Thiem still has not slept since his historic victory Sunday evening. The Austrian, who is the first player in the Open Era to rally from two sets down in the US Open final, is still on Cloud Nine more than 24 hours after he first walked inside Arthur Ashe Stadium to play Alexander Zverev for the title.
Thiem fell to the court in celebration at 8:19 p.m. Sunday evening, but he did not depart the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center until around midnight. When the 27-year-old got back to the player hotel on Long Island, he shared a special treat with his team: margherita pizza!
The champion was back in a car by 7:30 a.m. to return to Flushing for his media day. He went on television shows and spoke to various media outlets about his triumph. While en route, Thiem did a phone interview with a magazine. When Thiem arrived on site, he ate açai for breakfast, which he did every day while in New York. At 8:30 a.m., he entered one of the corporate suites inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. By 9:10 a.m., he was live on national television for LIVE with Kelly and Ryan.
Dominic Thiem” />
“We were celebrating a little bit in the hotel room. But we were all shattered. It was a tough match. Many, many emotions,” Thiem said. “I think that if we would have been in the city like in normal years we would have done the same. I will do the big party in Vienna.”
The show’s hosts were wondering whether Thiem could eat pizza more often, or if he has to maintain a strict diet.
“Most of the time [I keep a strict diet]. I need to feel well on court. With pizza it’s a little bit tough,” Thiem said. “Of course I also need to keep my good body shape and it’s easier without too much pizza.”
What they didn’t know is that Thiem also received a cake from one of his sponsors. It was certainly a worthy occasion!
Dominic Thiem” />
Thiem did several interviews throughout the morning, from local news show Good Day New York to a chat with folks at the New York Stock Exchange. In the background were the 23,000 empty seats that surround the US Open’s centre court. That was where Thiem made his dream come true. This year, however, there were no fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When you go into the stadium and you see all the people, you hear the big roar, it gives you already so much energy. Yesterday we played for four hours. There are many ups and downs. You have to keep your full energy all the time and the crowd helps you with that,” Thiem said. “Without the fans you have to do it all by yourself, which is pretty tough. Of course if you win a big match or a big title to celebrate with the fans… it’s something very special and all that was missing, unfortunately.”
Dominic Thiem” />
Inside Arthur Ashe Stadium’s private suites, which seeded players were able to use from the start of the Western & Southern Open, are televisions. Between interviews, Thiem checked out the action going on in Rome at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
The Austrian will not be competing in the event, but he was happy to keep his eye on the matches at the ATP Masters 1000 event. He watched 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic’s comeback victory against Alexander Bublik. Ironically, Cilic was the last first-time Grand Slam titlist before Thiem.
Dominic Thiem” />
At one point, Thiem paused to look at his trophy. A big fan of tennis and its history, Thiem was examining all the names on his silver prize.
The new Grand Slam champion wrapped up his final interview around 1 p.m. and headed downstairs. His transportation was waiting to take him to the airport. Thiem is en route to Austria. He’ll hope to finally get some sleep and enjoy the fruits of his labour.
Look below for a sampling of the world’s reaction to Thiem’s victory:
Great work @ThiemDomi and a well deserved run to the final of another major. I’m really looking forward to your match with @AlexZverev. As you said, you are great friends and great rivals. It will make for another great #USOpen final! 🚀 https://t.co/6mpf1UgIdW
— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) September 12, 2020
— Nicolas Massu (@massunico) September 14, 2020
This is what sport is all about. Respect, appreciation and friendship. Thank you 🙏🏼 Domi and Sasha for standing strong for your character values and seeing always what matters the most – love & respect for each other. Congratulations to both of you. @ThiemDomi @AlexZverev #USOpen pic.twitter.com/BrqUr06CS5
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) September 14, 2020
How’s it feel @ThiemDomi? 🎉😁 Congrats & enjoy it!!! 👏🎉🏆💪
— Marin Cilic (@cilic_marin) September 14, 2020
Welcome to the club(grand slam champion)Dominic Thiem 👏👊
— Kafelnikov Yevgeny (@KYevgeni) September 14, 2020
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 14, 2020
Hi everyone, my name is Bruno Soares and last week I won the US Open doubles title with Mate Pavic. Usually after a Grand Slam I head home to Brazil, but these are different times. Right away we left for Rome to get ready for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. I wanted to bring you behind the scenes of what my life has been like over the past few days.
After winning there is so much buzz back home with the media, social media and all that. I was on every TV show. All my friends were texting me. It was very intense. In a way, the time since winning the tournament has actually felt the most normal since I flew to New York.
You’re extremely happy, but the adrenaline goes down and there’s still so many messages to answer and people to talk to. It’s quite tiring after winning a Slam. Everything adds up. Mate’s doing pretty well, though. He is 10 years younger than me, so it’s easier when you’re 28, not 38!
Everywhere you go in New York is always completely packed, but there were way less people in the airport. I feel that everywhere there’s this weird vibe. Some people are a bit more worried than others and you feel a tension everywhere you walk. It’s not fun to be honest, but it is something we have to deal with. As tennis players we need to go to the airport. We’re going to have to get used to how this is. I understand that these are unprecedented times.
Bruno Soares” />
I know that personally. I unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 a couple weeks before flying to New York. I was literally on the clock to not be able to play the Western & Southern Open. When I tested positive, even though I had no symptoms, the doctor said not to do anything for 14 days. That was tough. I was lucky enough to test negative in time to fly to New York, but I hadn’t touched my racquets for 14 days.
I felt like I had a great preparation for returning to tennis with my fitness coach and those 14 days just took me down. For me it was very important to get back into shape as quickly as possible. It’s tough when you’re playing good tennis, but not in good shape. Doubles is a very explosive sport, you need to be very quick with hand-eye coordination and everything. It actually helped me that we lost in the first round of Cincinnati. I can’t complain, we won the US Open!
We couldn’t get any direct flights on Friday to Rome, so we went through Lisbon. New York to Lisbon was six hours, 40 minutes and going from Lisbon to Rome took two hours, 40 minutes. I was hoping for a 10-hour flight so I could sleep! I didn’t even turn on my TV because I was sleeping the whole time.
Bruno Soares” />
The only time I don’t go home after a major is after Roland Garros. But this is definitely different, because we are going from the US Open straight to the clay season in Europe. When we got to Rome, we immediately checked in, went through all the safety protocols — including a COVID-19 test — and went into 24-hour quarantine as we awaited our results. We all tested negative and were able to practise on Sunday evening at the Foro Italico. It all starts again!
We have a tough draw here against last year’s Cincinnati winners Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek. But that is expected at a Masters 1000. The draw looks a lot like the US Open, so while we don’t have many days to prepare, we need to try to carry the energy and momentum from New York and put it into action here in Rome. I’m extremely happy to have to quickly get ready because we won a Grand Slam. That’s a good problem to have!
You might be wondering what it was like for us in New York. There were no fans at this year’s US Open because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course that is understandable, as the tournament had to think of safety first.
But to be honest, the tournament still felt like a Grand Slam. The energy, the pressure and the will to win you sense at a major seemed the same. There is always extra tension in the air. Walking onto the court inside Arthur Ashe Stadium didn’t have the same atmosphere, but the feeling of waking up and preparing for a Grand Slam final, warming up on centre court and getting ready felt normal. I could still feel those butterflies in my stomach.
Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images
The tournament gave me a private suite towards the end of the tournament. The day of the final I walked out on the balcony and visualised the match. Those are the moments that we play for. Of course we want to go out there to a packed stadium and have a great atmosphere, but we knew that was not the case this year. For me it was quite nice to just enjoy that moment before the final and feel how lucky I was to play in a Grand Slam final again.
After match point, Mate fell to the court and I could only scream from excitement. It was amazing! Even though this US Open was different because of the pandemic, everything that you get in a Grand Slam final was the same. With everything going on, it feels extra special and to win a major title in our second event back on Tour.
Four years ago when I won the US Open with Jamie Murray, I had about 50 friends here with me, so we all went and celebrated after. Now it’s completely different. I was FaceTiming with friends and family. But then I just went back to the hotel and had a few beers with Mate and our physios. That was probably the biggest difference.
Winning a Grand Slam is an amazing feeling and there is a massive adrenaline spike during that time that brings your energy all the way up. You feel the excitement with your team, everyone around you, the way people talk. Your friends get extra pumped and send you lots of encouraging messages. That feeling never gets old.
Bruno Soares” />
Kei Nishikori defeated two-time ATP Tour titlist Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 7-6(3) on Monday evening to reach the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. It is the Japanese star’s first win since the 2019 US Open, where he reached the third round.
“Very happy to win. I think winning is most important for now. I need to get a lot of confidence. It’s been a long time since the US Open last year,” Nishikori said on court after his victory. “Happy to go through. It wasn’t maybe perfect yet, but hopefully one by one I’ll get better.”
The 30-year-old is working his way back from right elbow surgery, which he had lost October. Nishikori needed six match points to finish off the Spaniard, triumphing after two hours and four minutes. He saved the two break points he faced against Ramos-Vinolas and converted one of the 10 break points he earned.
“I tried to be aggressive when I could. He hits a lot of topspin balls, so it’s not easy,” said Nishikori, who has never lost his opening match in Rome. “But I tried to have good defence and good offence.”
Nishikori could next play three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, who faces Italian qualifier Lorenzo Musetti in his first-round match Tuesday.
Reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner cruised past Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-1 in 64 minutes. Last May, the Italian claimed his maiden ATP Masters 1000 victory at the Foro Italico against Steve Johnson before losing against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Sinner will have a chance to get revenge against the third seed in the next round. The Italian will try to earn his second Top 10 win when he faces Tsitsipas.
US Open quarter-finalist Borna Coric maintained his momentum against 14th seed Cristian Garin, eliminating the Chilean 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and seven minutes. Frenchman Ugo Humbert defeated two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson 6-3, 7-6(5) in his Rome debut. He will try to upset seventh seed Fabio Fognini in the second round.
Also advancing was Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, who battled past Brit Daniel Evans 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 after two hours and 28 minutes.
When Dominic Thiem was growing up, he always dreamt of winning a Grand Slam title. After turning that into a reality by triumphing at the US Open, the Austrian doesn’t want the victory to change who he is off the court.
“I hope that it doesn’t change my life because my life cannot depend on success. That would be wrong,” Thiem told ATPTour.com. “But I hope it definitely changes my career. I achieved the biggest goal so far that I set for myself and I hope that it lets me play more free and even better tennis in the next big tournaments coming up.”
The 27-year-old became the first player to lift his maiden major trophy since Marin Cilic emerged victorious at the 2014 US Open. Between the 2017 Australian Open and this past fortnight at Flushing Meadows, only members of the Big Three — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic — earned Grand Slam glory.
“I think that more younger players will win major trophies in the future, yes, but the Big Three are still around. The next huge tournament, the French Open, is just around the corner and Rafa and Novak are in the draw,” Thiem said. “I think whenever they are in the draw they are the biggest favourites to win the title just because they are who they are. But I think it was good for men’s tennis that there is a new face on the winning list.”
US Open 2020 Trophy” />
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/USTA
Thiem has proven he can compete with the best players in the world. When he is in full flight, the 17-time tour-level champion is capable of blasting through any opponent. It was ironic that in the biggest match of his life against Alexander Zverev, he relied a lot on his backhand slice in key moments, lengthening rallies as the match wore on. The Austrian admitted that nerves kept him from uncorking his signature one-handed backhand, especially towards the end of the five-setter.
“To pull off that shot, especially the backhand down the line, I need to feel free,” Thiem said. “I need to have a great acceleration in my wrist and my whole arm and I didn’t have it because of my nerves, because of my tightness. It was tough in the first two sets until I freed myself in the third.”
Read More On Thiem’s Win
Domi’s Historic Comeback Yields Title
Brain Game: Why Longer Rallies Underpinned Thiem’s Big Win
Free-Dom! ‘I Dedicated My Whole Life To Win A Major’
Thiem turned things around just in time, becoming the first US Open champion in the Open Era to rally from two sets down in the final. Now the Austrian, who has competed in four Grand Slam finals, has plenty of cushion at No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. He only trails World No. 2 Rafael Nadal by 725 points.
If Thiem overtakes Nadal, he will become the first player outside of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and former World No. 1 Andy Murray to crack the Top 2 since Lleyton Hewitt in July 2005. Thiem is the 18th different World No. 3 since then, and the 11th of that group whose career-high remains No. 3.
“Honestly I didn’t think about the ranking at all so far. I was just fully focussed on the US Open the past weeks, but now the goal is to hopefully rise even higher in the rankings, which is super, super tough,” Thiem said. “We all know the two names who are in front of me, but now it’s time to enjoy this a little bit and then get ready for the French. It’s a great opportunity, two huge tournaments in a row and I’m looking forward to it.”
Dominic Thiem was tight. In fact, he himself acknowledged in his victorious US Open press conference that he was “super, super tight.”
“The problem was my nerves,” Thiem said post-match. In much the same way that Stan Wawrinka was shaking and crying in the locker room before defeating Novak Djokovic in four sets in the 2016 US Open final, Thiem said he was tight the whole day.
Because of the tightness, he quickly fell behind two sets to love and a break down in the third. Because as Thiem said, “the belief was stronger than the body,” he won his first Grand Slam title, defeating Alexander Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) in one of the most physically and mentally draining finals in recent times. Both players cramped at the end, their bodies failing them when they needed it most. Their minds went to hell and back trying to reach the finish line first.
Zverev was not tight at all to begin the match, but he too succumbed to nerves trying to close a huge lead instead of continuing to employ the aggressive, net-rushing game style that positioned him so far ahead in the match. Knowing that the wolves were howling in the head of both players during the final provides the necessary lens to understand the match analytics, which dramatically changed from beginning to end.
For example, Zverev had 10 forehand winners and 17 forehand errors in the first two sets. It was the most dominant shot on the court. In the remaining three sets, he only had seven forehand winners and committed 40 errors. Nerves mercilessly took this shot out at the knees.
At the 61-minute mark of the final, Thiem walked up to the baseline to serve trailing 6-2, 5-1, 30/40. He ended up saving three break points in that game, providing the first speck of light at the end of the tunnel. He reeled off three straight games to 4-5, including breaking Zverev for the first time in the match.
This is where the winds started to change for Thiem.
In Zverev’s post-match interview, he said, “The match turned when he broke me for the first time in the second set (at 5-2). I think he started playing much better and I started playing much worse.” If Zverev ever has any doubts about the game style best suited for his athletic 6’6” frame, he needs to look no further than the first 14 games of the final where he led 6-2, 5-1. He is a power baseliner who relentlessly hunts the short ball. And yes, serving and volleying is a line item that sits right at the top of the game plan.
Zverev Coming Forward
In the final, Zverev served and volleyed 40 times (a stat that includes aces, unreturned serves and five double faults, when he was moving forward), winning a commanding 68 per cent (27/40). Zverev won five of six points serving and volleying in the opening set, including serving and volleying on a second serve leading 2-1, 15-0. The strategy worked so well because Thiem stood as far back as possible to take up his return position, often times double checking where the linespeople were in his immediate vicinity, so as not to collide with them.
Zverev was credited with approaching the net 66 times in the match, winning a healthy 65 per cent (43/66) of points, which was far superior than the 45 per cent (72/160) he won standing at the baseline. With Thiem wanting to stand back as far as possible to return and rally, coming forward was the perfect antidote for Zverev.
Thiem Extending The Rallies
Zverev put on a north-south masterclass in the first two sets. Thiem desperately wanted to turn the match east-west and make it a groundstroke duel with lots of heavy topspin, heavy slice and side-to-side pain. He wanted to wear Zverev out and was willing to sacrifice every ounce of his own fitness to make it happen.
The average rally length of the five sets identifies exactly how Thiem scraped his way back into the match.
Average Rally Length
|Set||Avg. Rally Length||Outcome|
The average rally length in the fifth set (6.29 shots) was almost double that of the second set (3.30 shots) when Zverev was basically untouchable.
Zverev’s 15 double faults played a major part in him losing the final. He was broken seven times in the match, with seven double faults occurring in five of those service games. Two double faults reared their head in the fifth set tie-break.
Zverev saved one match point at 5-6 in the fifth set tie-break with a 68mph second serve that barely crept over the net. Serving at 3-4 in the fourth set, he hit seven second serves and was ultimately broken. One was a double fault, two were over 130mph, while the other four were 83mph and lower. Nobody knew what was coming or where they were landing, especially Zverev.
Overall, both players ran a 5K during the final, with Thiem running 5206 metres and Zverev running 5138 metres. The average distance run per point for Thiem was a lactic-acid-inducing 16.17 metres, with Zverev averaging 15.96 metres. Thiem’s desperate game plan of extending rallies to outlast Zverev was a dangerous one, as it took him to the very brink of exhaustion to pull it off. He could not stand still toward the end of the match for fear of his body locking up.
This final was about survival. It was about believing there was a way forward when one didn’t exist.
Cilic to face Goffin
Grigor Dimitrov and Marin Cilic, who have both reached the semi-finals at the Foro Italico, got off to winning starts on Monday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Dimitrov, the No. 15 seed and 2014 semi-finalist, proved to be too strong for Italian wild card Gianluca Mager 7-5, 6-1 in 74 minutes. From 5-5 in the first set, Dimitrov won seven straight games for his 10th victory of the season. He awaits the winner of Yoshihito Nishioka and Miomir Kecmanovic, who lifted his first ATP Tour title at the Generali Open on Sunday.
Cilic, who lost to Alexander Zverev in the Rome semi-finals two years ago, worked hard to beat Alexander Bublik 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and 14 minutes for a place in the second round.
Cilic could not convert a set point on Bublik’s serve at 4-5, 30/40 and subsequently saved four break points in his next service game. Cilic broke in the first and seventh games of the second set, and moved clear early in the decider to set up a clash against sixth seed David Goffin.
Novak Djokovic played an epic five-setter in this year’s Australian Open final to lift his 17th Grand Slam trophy. That victory came at Dominic Thiem’s expense, sending the Austrian to 0-3 in major finals. The Serbian was pleased to see the 27-year-old finally break through at a Slam on Sunday evening by winning the US Open.
“Dominic deserves this title probably more than anybody. He’s such a nice guy, and he works extremely hard. He was so close in the past couple of years and finally he has it,” Djokovic said. “It would be interesting to see how his career goes on from here, but it’s a huge relief.”
Thiem echoed those sentiments after his five-set victory against Alexander Zverev, adding that he believes he will play even freer at the biggest tournaments now. Djokovic recalls how he felt after winning his first major at the 2008 Australian Open.
“I remember my first Grand Slam title, obviously getting that first monkey out of your back, in a way, to say it’s a huge relief. After that you start believing in yourself much more and feeling maybe a bit less pressure and expectations from yourself to win Slams,” Djokovic said. “Both of these guys possess a huge tennis quality on all surfaces to win titles and Grand Slams. We have Roland Garros coming in a couple weeks’ time, and Dominic is right behind Rafa, on clay [as] the favourite to go all the way.”
Djokovic watched the first four sets of the US Open final. One of the things he was most impressed by was the respect Thiem and Zverev, who are good friends, showed each other inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“We all know that they are good friends and you could see how much they wanted to win, of course, [the] final of a Slam. They both were fighting for the first Grand Slam title and both of them were bringing a lot of intensity on the court, but never disrespecting each other,” Djokovic said. “That struck me the most, to be honest, the appreciation, respect, and friendship that they showed. I think it’s a great message to all of the tennis players and the sports world in general.”
Overall, the World No. 1 was happy to see both men competing under the spotlight in the final of a Grand Slam.
“I want to congratulate both of these guys. I want to congratulate them, of course, for their achievements. To get to the final for Sascha for the first time and to play for two-and-a-half sets the way he played was really impressive, and he was very close to winning it. Then again, he served for the match in the fifth,” Djokovic said. “For Dominic to lose three finals and start the match not on a very high level but then come back and win in such fashion is very inspiring, and they deserve a lot of credit.”
Djokovic is the top seed at this week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, where he is a four-time champion. It is an extra-special week for the Serbian, who on Monday tied Pete Sampras for the second-most weeks (286) as the No. 1 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
The 33-year-old admitted that the quick post-US Open turnaround to clay has been “unusual”, but he is thankful to have opportunities to play during these unprecedented times. He believes that the clay favourite is clear.
“Rafa obviously decided to stay on clay and practise. Surely that gives him more advantage, but even if he didn’t practise for that long on clay, he would still be the number one favorite [at] Roland Garros or any other clay tournament because he’s Rafa,” Djokovic said. “Playing on clay, he’s the ultimate challenge.
“But for most of the other guys, of course, it’s going to be [an] adjustment challenge [to see] how quickly can we adapt, how quickly can we adjust to this new surface. Let’s see. I did have four or five days of training, coming here, couple more days of training before my first match. I think it is sufficient. But let’s see on the court.”
Spanish superstar praises Thiem’s US Open win
Rafael Nadal is excited to be back on the ATP Tour in Rome, where he will be attempting to capture a 10th title this week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
“Rome is always exciting,” said Nadal, via a virtual press conference on Monday. “It’s one of the most important events in the world, without a doubt. And at the same time, of course, it will not be the same with no crowd and, being in the bubble, not being able to enjoy a little bit the city. But at least we have a tennis tournament here in Rome. That’s positive and I happy for that.”
Nadal arrived on Wednesday in Rome, for the second of three ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in 2020. He is scheduled to play Pablo Carreno Busta in his first match at the Foro Italico.
“I arrived in plenty of time to try and have the right practices,” said Nadal, who hasn’t competed since 29 February due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. “You need matches to feel 100 per cent… I’m excited about going back to competition, without big expectations. I know I have a tough first [match] against Pablo. He’s playing great. So let’s see, it’s going to be a good test.
“[My] expectation is to always go on court and try to feel competitive. That’s the first goal. Go on court, feel [that I’m] competitive, and then I will see how I feel and what kind of goals I can look for.”
The 33-year-old, who captured the 85th trophy of his career at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC (d. Fritz) in February, admitted that he had watched the first four sets of Sunday’s US Open final between Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev.
“I’m happy for Dominic,” said Nadal, who defeated Thiem in the 2018 and 2019 Roland Garros finals. “He’s somebody who deserves to win a big title. He’s a super hard worker. Very focused on his goals. [A] good person, [a] good human person. He deserves it.
“[I’m] sorry for Sascha. He was close, but in some ways, I think even if Sascha played a great final for moments, I think that the road to that final from Dominic was a little bit more solid… Sascha will have probably more chances in the future.”
Novak Djokovic says he must “move on” from his disqualification at the US Open but that he also may never forget the incident.