Thiem, Osaka Win the U.S. Open

Nicholas Knoth

Men’s Final

After more than four hours of competition, Dominic Thiem, the Austrian twenty-seven-year-old professional tennis player, defeated Alexander Zverev, the German twenty-three-year-old, in what was one of the most suspenseful and eventful tennis matches fans have witnessed in a long time.

Alexander Zverev took an early lead, winning the first two sets 6-2, 6-4, respectively. Towards the end of the second set, nevertheless, he gave up some easy points in the form of double faults and, to a lesser extent, missed volleys. This was Thiem’s opportunity to fight back. And he did.

Thiem went on to win the next two sets (6-4, 6-3) and forced a tie-break after a back-and-forth fifth set.

Watching the tie-break was truly nail-biting. Zverev got an early 2/0 lead, but then made some mistakes including two double faults and a long forehand. Also during the tie-break, Thiem managed to hit his hardest serve yet (132 mph), despite being both mentally and physically exhausted. After some suspenseful rallies, the score was now 6/4 in favor of Thiem. With two match points, victory was in sight.

The Austrian proceeded to hit the first ball into the net and then failed to take advantage of the German’s weak subsequent 68 mph serve.

With the score tied up again, it could go either way. Zverev made a fatal error when he returned Theim’s approach shot directly in front of him, where he could hit an unreturnable cross-court forehand. The game ended one rally later after Zverev played a wide backhand.

Thiem’s comeback after the first two sets was nothing short of incredible. In fact, he is now the first man in seventy-one years to win the U.S. Open final after losing the first two sets.

In an emotional runner-up speech minutes after the match ended, Zverev teared up as he congratulated his opponent and thanked his coaches and parents for supporting him.

“I miss them. Man, this is tough. I’m sure they’re sitting at home and even though I lost, they’re pretty proud,” he said, referring to his parents who couldn’t come with him to New York after testing positive for COVID-19.

Regardless of the outcome, it was an incredible match to watch. Even Novak Djokovic, who was disqualified earlier in the tournament, applauded the two finalists, saying:

“This is what sports is all about. Respect, appreciation, and friendship. Regardless of the rivalry these two guys have and the amazing battle they had yesterday, they still showed big heart and inspired many tennis players.”

Highlights of the match can be found here.

The Djokovic Incident

Being the top seed, Novak Djokovic was expected to win the U.S. Open. In an unexpected turn of events, however, the No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player was out of the tournament sooner than most fans expected, and it was not because of defeat.

Djokovic had been having an outstanding performance with an undefeated record so far in the 2020 season. It all came to a rather abrupt end after he recklessly and forcibly hit a tennis ball that struck a line judge, causing her to collapse on the court. This occurred in the fourth round of the tournament after his opponent, Pablo Carreño, broke his serve game (placing Pablo ahead 6-5 in the set).

Immediately after realizing he had hit the line judge, the Serbian tennis star (along with medical officials) rushed over to attend to the young women. After a lengthy discussion with tournament officials, Djokovic was formally disqualified. Hours later, Djokovic publicly apologized for his actions on his Instagram page saying:

“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. I checked on the linesperson and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok. I‘m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong.”

Video footage of the incident can be found here.

Women’s Final

Naomi Osaka, the twenty-two-year-old Japanese tennis player, won the U.S Open Women’s Final on Saturday after defeating long time tennis star, Victoria Azarenka, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. The championship marked the twenty-two-year old’s third grand slam title, further establishing her inspiring young career.

Despite having a disappointing first set (winning only one game), Osaka prevailed to win the next two sets 6-3, 6-3, defeating the Belarussian former No. 1 ranked tennis star.

After the match, Osaka humbly admitted that “It was a really tough match, but inspiring, as [she] used to watch [Azarenka]” when she was a young girl.

Tournament Conclusion

The USTA did an amazing job of organizing the tournament and prioritizing the safety of players, fans, and staff during these trying times; fans around the world enjoyed an excellent show.

In just a few days, these young stars will be traveling to Paris to participate in the French Open. Considering the success of the 2020 U.S. Open, fans should expect another great tournament, especially considering the participation of the tennis hall-of-Famers such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.