German fifth seed Alexander Zverev overcame a listless start to secure a thrilling 3-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-3 U.S. Open semi-final win over Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday to reach his first Grand Slam final.
Zverev, with his back against the wall, raised his game just in time to deny the Spanish 20th seed the upset and, in doing so, secured his first career victory from two sets down on his second match point after a rogue backhand by Carreno Busta.
The German looked headed for certain defeat after committing 36 errors through the first two sets but used his versatile game to pick himself up and looked like a completely different player the rest of the way.
“I was actually looking at the scoreboard when I was down two sets to love and I was like ‘I can’t believe it, I am playing in the semi-final where I am supposed to be the favourite and I am down two sets to love,” said Zverev.
“I knew that I had to come up with better tennis and I knew that I had to be more stable … but I am through to my first Grand Slam final and that’s all that matters.”
After Zverev levelled the match at two sets apiece Carreno Busta took a medical timeout to have his back tended to and the German, with a sudden swagger in his step, got the break he needed in the first game before cruising home.
Carreno Busta was locked in early as he held at love to open the match, turned aside a break point on his next service game, and broke twice for a 5-1 lead before securing the first set.
Things kept going the Spaniard’s way in the second as he pushed Zverev‘s back to the wall with three consecutive breaks for a 5-0 lead during a lopsided set in which the mishitting German made 22 unforced errors.
But Zverev flipped a switch and suddenly looked the more confident of the two as he broke Carreno Busta four times over the next two sets while leaning on his serve to put the pressure on the Spaniard’s shoulders.
Zverev, who is bidding to become the first German Grand Slam champion since Boris Becker won the 1996 Australian Open, will face either 2019 U.S. Open finalist Daniil Medvedev or second seed Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final.
Dominic Thiem advanced to his second Grand Slam final of 2020, digging out a win over third seeded
Austria’s Dominic Thiem advanced to his second Grand Slam final of 2020, digging out a win over third seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-2 7-6(7) 7-6(5) at the U.S. Open on Friday.
“For sure (it was) the toughest straight-sets win I ever had because could have been easily completely different,” said Thiem, who will compete for his first-ever Grand Slam title in the men’s final on Sunday against Germany’s Alexander Zverev.
Thiem seized the early momentum inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium, handily carrying the first set without dropping a single first-serve point, but a double fault and a forehand error saw him hand Medvedev the break and the early lead in the second.
Thiem, who has lost in three Grand Slam finals and never claimed a major title, spent the remainder of the set playing catch up, converting on a critical break to level the score 5-5 before the 24-year-old Russian dragged it into a tiebreak.
Medvedev kept his energy up as he traded blows with his opponent, triumphing in an epic, 33-shot rally early in the tiebreak, but his efforts came up short.
“He just doesn’t miss when I play with his rhythm. So I tried to destroy that a little bit with lot of slices, with also high balls with a lot of spin. That was what was the plan,” Thiem said.
The 27-year-old Thiem, who had a trainer examine his ankle before the third set, slipped and fell twice in the match, unfurling a string of frustrated exclamations the second time he did so. But he regained his cool to survive yet another tiebreak and clinched the affair with a power forehand and a roar.
“I played my best tennis then towards the end of the sets,” said Thiem, who saved six of eight break point opportunities during the match, committing a dozen fewer unforced errors than his opponent.
“Both tiebreaks were amazing. Tiebreaks are mentally a tough thing. I don’t like them at all to be honest,” he said. “I’m really happy to be through. It was a great semi-final.”
Medvedev, who fired off a dozen aces on the match, showed shades of his bad boy persona seen in his 2019 run to the U.S. Open final. He offered a sarcasm-drenched apology in the first set after crossing to the other side of the net to lobby for a late challenge, earning a violation in the process.
“I think I killed someone, right?” he said to a tournament supervisor in the stands, adding to the umpire, “My sincere apologies for crossing the net.”