US Open Tennis 2020 Men's Final: Dominic Thiem vs. Alexander Zverev Preview

Jake RillSenior Writer ISeptember 13, 2020

Dominic Thiem, of Austria, serves to Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, during a men's semifinal match of the US Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

The final day of the 2020 U.S. Open has arrived. After two weeks of exciting tennis, only one match remains: the men's singles final. And we're guaranteed to have a first-time Grand Slam champion.

No. 2-seeded Dominic Thiem is set to take on No. 5-seeded Alexander Zverev on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. It's been an unorthodox major tournament, with no fans in attendance. But in the end, two of the top ranked players will be battling for the title.

With Novak Djokovic (fourth-round disqualification), Rafael Nadal (opting not to play) and Roger Federer (knee surgery) all not in the final, this will be the first Grand Slam event since the 2016 U.S. Open that won't be won by one of the so-called Big Three, ending a streak of 13 straight major tournaments won by Djokovic, Nadal or Federer.

Thiem and Zverev have both been close to winning a Grand Slam event before, and one of them will join the illustrious list of players to win a major tournament Sunday.

Here's everything you need to know heading into the U.S. Open's final match.

                   

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Men's Singles Final Information

Date: Sunday, Sept. 13

Time: 4 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

                   

Preview

In both 2018 and 2019, Thiem reached the final at the French Open. Both times he lost to Nadal. He reached the final at this year's Australian Open, losing to Djokovic.

This time, it's Zverev awaiting Thiem. And while the German has also never won a Grand Slam title, he's a worthy competitor. It's the first time he has made the final of a major tournament. He reached the semifinals of the Australian Open earlier this year, when his run came to an end with a loss to Thiem. Zverev had never previously made it past the round of 16 at the U.S. Open.

That Australian Open semifinal matchup was the ninth time that Thiem and Zverev have gone head-to-head. Thiem has gotten the better of Zverev in seven of their matchups, including that one, which the Austrian won 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4).

It's not surprising that match went to four sets or that it featured a pair of tiebreakers. Zverev has played similar matches throughout the U.S. Open, with five of his six matches going at least four sets and four of them having at least one tiebreaker.

Zverev's most impressive win came in his semifinal matchup Friday. The 23-year-old lost the first two sets to No. 20-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta before rallying back for a 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win. It wouldn't be surprising if Zverev's match against Thiem is just as competitive.

"Sunday is going to be extremely difficult," Zverev said, according to Wayne Coffey of USA Today. "But I'm looking forward to it. I'm in the final of a Grand Slam. The two best players in the world are going to be playing on court."

Thiem won his semifinal matchup in three sets. But it was still a competitive bout against No. 3-seeded Daniil Medvedev, as Thiem won 6-2, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5). It was the fourth time in Thiem's past five matches that he won in three sets.

The last time that Zverev won a head-to-head matchup against Thiem was in 2018. The Austrian has beaten the German three times since then.

"I think for me the most crucial point is the return of his serve, because his first serve is one of, if not the best out there right now," Thiem said, according to ESPN's Peter Bodo. "It's so fast, so precise. That will be a key point, I guess. Try to put many balls back in play."

Regardless of whether Thiem or Zverev wins, both men could be contenders at many major tournaments for years to come. But only one of them will become a first-time Grand Slam champion Sunday.