No lead was safe in the men's draw at the U.S. Open. History was made in the process.
A day after Alexander Zverev overcame a two-set deficit in the semifinals against Pablo Carreno Busta, he blew a two-set lead to Dominic Thiem in the final, setting up a dramatic final-set tiebreaker (the first fifth-set tiebreaker in U.S. Open final history). Thiem prevailed in the test of endurance, winning his first Grand Slam title in the process, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).
It was the first Grand Slam won by a player other than Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal since Stan Wawrinka won the U.S. Open in 2016.
The drama in the tiebreaker was palpable. Thiem looked set to claim the title up 6-4, holding two championship points, only to lose both. It was, in many ways, a microcosm of a match that neither man controlled for long. But undeterred, he won the next two points, putting the finishing touches on his epic comeback.
Thiem made history in a different way, joining an exclusive list of players to overcome a two-set deficit and win a Grand Slam while also becoming the first man to do it at the U.S. open in 71 years:
The match clearly took a physical and emotional toll on both men. Zverev struggled to get through his runner-up speech, clearly overtaken by the weight and emotion of the moment.
"I wish you would have missed a bit more, but we are both on the up," he said, per the ESPN broadcast.
Zverev also got choked up talking about his parents, who couldn't be in attendance:
Tumaini Carayol @tumcarayol
Alex Zverev: "They're always with me in every single tournament that I go to. Unfortunately, my dad and mother tested positive... and they couldn't have gone with me. I miss them. Man, this is tough. I'm sure they're sitting at home and even though I lost, they're pretty proud."
And Thiem was gracious in victory, talking about his friendship with Zverev off the court and his belief that his opponent will eventually claim a Grand Slam title of his own.
"It's amazing how far our journey brought us to share this moment with you," he said, per the ESPN broadcast. "Truly I wish we could have had two winners today. I think we both deserved it. ... You're gonna make it 100 percent. You're going to make your parents proud, your family proud."
From there, Thiem just soaked up his moment:
It's rare that a player not named Djokovic, Federer or Nadal breaks through at a Grand Slam. The trio have won 56 Grand Slam titles in total, after all, and at least one had been involved in the last five U.S. Open finals.
But with Federer and Nadal skipping the tournament and Djokovic disqualified, the stage was set for new blood. Thiem took advantage, making history in a grueling, roller-coaster of a match.