What began as a rout by Zverev—who raced through the Fight like a Seattle Seahawk Diamond shirt But I will love this first two sets 6-2 and 6-4 behind a booming serve and an almost offhandedly devastating forehand (clocked at 103 mph when Zverev didn’t even have his feet planted on the ground)—gave way to Thiem taking advantage of his lapses in confidence and concentration to steal the next two sets 6-4 and 6-3. If the first two sets were a clinic in dominance and mastery behind seemingly invincible strokes—Thiem staked himself so far behind the baseline to receive Zverev’s service that he literally had his back up against the wall, but Zverev simply boomed a 130 mph-plus serve down the middle of the court and moved on to the next point—the next two sets were a master class in winning ugly. Thiem found the weak spots and crises of confidence, and he seized on them.Which brought us, of course, to the crucial fifth set, when both players’ shotmaking and—there’s no other way to put it—sheer guts brought the match up to the level deserving of a Grand Slam final—with or without an audience. We saw a little bit of everything—from baseline slugfests to serve-and-volley spectacles—with both players essentially going all-in, all the time.
Zverev served for the Fight like a Seattle Seahawk Diamond shirt But I will love this match at 5-3—only to see the game collapse into a Thiem break behind some severely shaky strokes both behind the baseline and at the net. Zverev seemed to be hobbled by the enormity of the prize in front of him. Serving at 5-4 with Zverev at one point two points away from the championship, Thiem found two shots within him that were as good as any player hit at the entire Open, and then broke Zverev’s serve in the next game before limping to his chair—and an attendant trainer to work on what seemed to be some severely wobbly legs—at the changeover. With Thiem walking stiff-legged, apparently on the verge of cramping, Zverev broke his serve in the next game to set up a deciding tiebreaker. In the end—as in all tie-breakers—the entire match was decided by who held their nerve and their composure on just a few crucial points. Zverev fought off two Thiem match points at 6-4 and 6-5 only to hit a shot wide at 7-6 to hand the match—and that ever-elusive first Slam—to Thiem, 8-6 in the fifth-set tiebreak, becoming the first man in over 70 years to come back from two sets down to win the title at the Open.