Back in Europe, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic watched only the first four sets of the US Open men’s final before heading to bed after midnight.
It was like driving all the way across the desert to the Grand Canyon and never looking at the view.
The reward came only at the end of the trip Sunday night when a modest match of choppy quality turned into something truly unforgettable as Alexander Zverev failed to finish Dominic Tim, who failed to finish Zverev, who failed to finish Tim. , Who finally managed to become the first new singles champion in the men’s Grand Slam tournament since 2014.
“We both were on our paddles,” Tim said in an interview with The New York Times on Monday.
This is undeniable and was often agonizing for those viewers who made it to the fifth set and the critical tiebreak. Both finalists wanted their first major title to the point where they sometimes couldn’t work.
Both are nerve-tight. But Tim’s grip on himself was ultimately a bit stronger and his shot was somewhat bolder, including winners with consecutive forehands on the streak that allowed him to maintain a 30-30 serve in 4-5 in the final set.
Not over yet. More breaks, breakdowns, bottlenecks and winners are waiting. But it could have ended there and then, with Zverev just two points away from winning and enjoying the luxury of not worrying about the gossip he was having while serving.
“The level of the match for me was one of the worst finals I have seen in my life,” said longtime coach Gunter Presnick in a phone interview. “But there were two young players trying to do something that they had never done before in their lives.
“For me, the better style is the longest in the match, Dominic has a better style and he’s the man since 2016 who deserves the Grand Slam title the most when the Big Three aren’t in the picture anymore.”
Presnick began coaching Tim, his Austrian teammate, when Tim was eight years old. Presnick shaped his style of play and mindset for 18 years before he broke up with Tim last year, hiring former Olympic singles champion Nicholas Maso, to be his coach.
“A huge step, a very difficult decision,” said Tim. “Of course I have to thank Gunter a lot. He taught me all the hits that I had, but at the same time I felt there were some small parts of my game that I could improve a lot, and that’s exactly what Nico helped me, especially the improvement I made and the progress I made on the roofs.” The fastest, on hard court. “
Tim, 27, also believes that turning away from his mentor – albeit with the support of his parents – has allowed him to gain more reins from his career and even his shots.
“Independence and growth are very important,” Tim said. “In court if the score is 5 – everyone is in fifth place, you have to make the decision, your own decision. If you are free out of court, and if you have your own team and make your own decision, then it will also be easier to make these decisions in court. A difference last year and this year too. “
For Bresnik, Thiem was always a progressive player, unable to win a massive title in his late teens or early twenties but very capable of building on.
So it’s over.
Tim did not win any sets in his first Grand Slam final: lost to Nadal at the 2018 French Open. Tim won one set in his next set: Another defeat to Nadal at the French Open 2019. Tim won two sets in his third: lost in five Sets against Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open.
In Tim’s fourth major final Sunday night, he won the three sets he needed against Zverev.
Tim is 4-7 against Djokovic, 5-9 against Nadal and 5-2 against Roger Federer.
Would he have mean more if he could beat one of the Big Three all the way to the title in New York?
Tim said, “Not at all.” “For me, it’s not worth more or less. Whoever I beat, it doesn’t matter to me. In my previous finals I had chances to beat one of the Big Three or even two of them on the way to winning the title. I failed, but I hope I get it.” More opportunities to do that. There is the French Open around the corner. “
Thiem has been the second-best clay court player in the world behind Nadal for the past three seasons, and he has always imagined that his first Grand Slam title would come in the “Battle of Earth” at the French Open. Instead, it was set up in a fast solid acrylic yard in New York with almost no one in the stands.
“Certainly not the way I imagined it,” Tim said, “but the feeling didn’t disappoint me.” “Such a huge relief and this happy moment when I switched that match point.”
But clay is still his favorite surface, and it doesn’t count in Paris even if Nadal was the 12-time French Open champion (which is not a typo) and was fresh and free of travel fatigue after skipping the US Open to train. Europe on mud.
“I’m sure I’ll recover physically and be 100 percent ready, but the other thing is how I internalize the US Open emotionally and mentally,” Tim said. “It’s really a mammoth and mega achievement for me, bigger than anything I’ve achieved so far in my tennis career, so I’m not sure how to handle this. Now I’m still full of adrenaline and happy feelings from yesteryear. But once some days go by we’ll see how I feel.” .
Tim played one dirt court tour event this season: the Rio Open in February before the tour was suspended for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic. He also played the show’s events on mud during the recess, including the tour of Adria, the Misguided Circle Djokovic organized in Serbia and Croatia in June.
Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Koric, and other players and coaches have tested positive for the virus, but Tim was not one of them. He said he would not play again before Paris.
“For Dominic to go from any surface to mud, I would say it takes half an hour,” Presnick said. “He’s used to it.”
Adapting to becoming a Grand Slam champion might take a little longer, especially when it was very close to not happening at all.
“You might think winning your first game at 27 is really late,” Presnick said. “But I said for 10 years, the best time for a tennis player today is between 26 and 33. If Dominic wins five to 10 Grand Slam titles in the next five years, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised.”