Dominic Thiem returns as US Open champion: “It will never get old” | ATP Tour

Dominik Thiem calls the US Open one of his favorite tournaments and New York one of his favorite cities. This year, the Austrian is as excited as ever to arrive at Flushing Meadows.

After missing the 2021 edition due to a wrist injury, Thiem will return to the venue US Open first time champion.

“It doesn’t get old and I don’t think it ever gets old [saying that]. It will always be special and it will always be there, which makes me very happy,” Thiem told ATPTour.com. “But at the same time, sport is a very fast business and everyone is hungry every day. I have no advantage because I’m a champion.”

Two years ago, Thiem rose higher than ever. In his fourth major final, the Austrian fought his way past Alexander Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) to lift the trophy in New York. He had also defeated Daniel Medvedev in straight sets in the semifinals and was No. 3 on the Pepperstone ATP rankings. Later that season defeated Thiem Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal On the way to the championship game Nitto ATP Finals.

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But the past 14 months have been difficult for the 17-time tour-level title roster. Last June, Thiem suffered a wrist injury in a competition in Mallorca that kept him away from the competition for nine months.

Fans are used to Thiem dominating opponents with his physical baseline play, offering relentless attacks with heavy groundstrokes at the top. But in 2022 it has taken some time for Thiem to return to his best form. Despite showing brilliant flashes of inspiration, the 28-year-old’s strongest run was the semifinals in Gstaad.

It’s a moment that will require perseverance, a quality Thiem has shown amply in the past. His game at Flushing Meadows proved it. A look at his time in New York two years ago is enough.

Thiem lost against Filip Krajinovic 2-6, 1-6 in his opening match at the Western & Southern Open, held at Flushing Meadows that year.

“The result was devastating, 2 and 1,” Thiem recalled. “It was difficult because usually you lose and you go to another place. They are doing the reset, but everything has stayed the same there. I remember taking a day or two off. Obviously there was a bubble so I just stayed at the hotel and watched TV and tried to find something to distract myself.

Thiem confidently shook off the disappointment of this defeat and achieved it US Open Endgame with only one set loss. He woke up on September 13, 2020 like any other day. After falling short in his first three Grand Slam finals, Thiem had another shot at great fame.

“I remember [that morning] actually quite good. I just remember it was a normal morning. The warm up was very good with [coach] Nico Massu. I had a great feeling. It wasn’t that different from the other three Grand Slam finals I’ve played,” said Thiem. “The bad things started when the game started. I was suddenly incredibly nervous, incredibly tense.”

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A great opportunity to realize a dream suddenly passed. Zverev took the lead inside 6: 2, 6: 4 Arthur Ashe Stadium where there were no fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The last thing Thiem would do against Zverev was stop giving his all, no matter what deficit he was facing.

“I tried to relax and say to myself: ‘If I don’t relax now, if I don’t let go now, I’ll lose anyway,'” Thiem recalled. “It’s sort of the last chance to release the handbrake, play more aggressively, play faster.”

Thiem needed to win three sets in a row to claim the biggest win of his career. He managed to secure and hold a break in the third break and made the first step of his comeback. his trainer, Nicholas MassuShe remembers how the momentum of the match turned at that moment.

“I think that changed everything for him. Maybe you look at the match when you’re down two sets to zero and start thinking you’re far,” Massu said. “When you take the break and almost win the third set and you’re two sets to one behind, you don’t see things that way, that far away. If you win the third set, you have a chance.”

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Thiem grabbed the momentum and stormed through the fourth set. But the roller coaster didn’t stop for a long time, even though it was the last sentence. Zverev served for the championship at 5-3 before Thiem recovered and served for the trophy at 6-5. Neither man converted. Massu was out of his seat after almost every point.

“That [players] felt, ‘Maybe this is my moment to win a Grand Slam.’ That’s why I think it was a close match on both sides. Dominic was tighter at the beginning and Sascha played better at the beginning,” Massu recalled. “Then Dominic started to play better and Sascha got tight as he was about to win. But in the end the only difference in the game was two points. Sometimes these two points go to your side and sometimes to the other side.

“The good thing for us and for Dominic was that this time it was for him.”

Despite slipping a 6/4 lead in the final set’s tie break, Thiem won the battle of wills and fell on his back in disbelief after Zverev missed a final backhand wide.

It was an example of what is possible if you don’t give up. That’s why, despite the difficult past 14 months, Thiem is excited to keep pushing to not only get back to his best, but to get even better.

“The lesson I learned was that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, even if you don’t believe it, even when things are very, very hard, when there’s a lot of pain or when there seems to be no way forward front,” said Thiem. “I had that feeling quite a lot, especially at the beginning of the wrist injury. But somehow after a while there is always a small step forward.

“Seeing those little positive things is very important and that doesn’t just apply to tennis or sports, it applies to all of life.”

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