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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday September 13, 2020

Dominic Thiem was a shadow of himself for the first two sets against Alexander Zverev during Sunday’s US Open final, but somehow the Austrian was able to reconnect the dots and find his pulsating game in time to become the first player to rally from two sets down to win a US Open final in 71 years.

Tennis Express

It was a nervy, patchy performance, but in the end it was one that was characterized by a lot of mental and physical strength from Thiem.

“It was tough to stay there and to still believe,” Thiem told reporters after his 2-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6(6) victory over the German on Sunday. “But I always had hope and the expectation that at one point I would free up. Luckily it was not too late when I broke him back in the third set. The belief was always there. From that moment when I broke him back for I think it was 3-All in the third set, the belief got stronger and stronger.”

Theim, who became the first Austrian to win a major singles title since 1995, told reporters that he has been dreaming about this moment for a long time.

“When I first realized that maybe one day I could really win a major was when I first broke into the semis of Roland Garros, when I broke into top 10. From that moment on I dreamed about it,” he said. “I thought that it's maybe realistic.”

He's been thought of for some time as a clay specialist, but Theim says it doesn’t matter to him what surface he won his first major on—he’s just happy to have a major title under his belt, especially after losing his first three major finals.

"At the end it doesn't matter to me," he said. "Main thing is that I have one of these four now. I definitely I achieved a life goal, a dream of myself, which I had for many, many years. I put a lot of work in. I mean, I dedicated basically my whole life until this point to win one of the four majors.”

Sunday's  four hour and two-minute final ends up as the 8th-longest US Open final in the Open Era. It was full of drama, with Thiem and Zverev both experiencing mental and physical anguish down the stretch as they headed into a fifth-set tiebreaker.

Thiem says he was just happy he had to strength to overcome the immense anxiety he was facing throughout the tense final.

“The problem was my nerves. I was super, super tight,” he said. “I was tighter than in a long time. Didn't even know how that feels anymore. Didn't even know how to get rid of that. But somehow I did it in the third set. “Somehow the belief today was stronger than the body, and I'm super happy about that.”


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