NEW YORK. — Austria’s Dominic Thiem finally claimed his maiden Grand Slam title with a stunning comeback to beat Germany’s Alexander Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) in a nerve-jangling battle of wills in the US Open final on Sunday.
The 27-year-old world No. 3 appeared to have blown his golden chance as he fell two sets behind but hit back to become the first player to win a Grand Slam from having trailed by two sets since Gaston Gaudio at the 2004 French Open.
Thiem, who dropped only one set en route to the final, started as favorite but was stifled by nerves early on, trailing by a set and 5-1 as his evening threatened to become a nightmare on an eerie, almost empty Arthur Ashe stadium.
He gradually broke the shackles to hit back from a break down to take the third, however, and Zverev faltered on serve at 3-4 in a high-quality fourth set allowing Thiem to take a slow burner of a contest to a decider.
With one of the sport’s biggest prizes within reach, both men raised their games in a gripping decider.
The 23-year-old Zverev, bidding to become the first German male to win a Grand Slam since Boris Becker won in New York in 1996, showed great composure to resist the Thiem charge and served for the title at 5-3.
With the match deep into its fourth hour, though, it had become not just a physical battle but a psychological one too.
First Zverev faltered with the title tantalizingly close, then Thiem could not hold serve for glory at 6-5 as a US Open men’s final moved into its first-ever fifth set tiebreak.
A gut-wrenching climax saw Thiem take a 6-4 lead as Zverev’s serve crumbled. But he netted a forehand with the court gaping, then sent another forehand wide.
Thiem earned another match point with a fearless pass though, and Zverev then dragged a backhand wide.