US Open 2020: Naomi sends a message as Thiem’s time arrives at last

The first major amidst the pandemic certainly lacked the full suite of stars, but the tournament delivered in quality, drama and the perfect send off in two classic finals.

Naomi Osaka finally got to revel in a hard-earned victory where tennis and not tantrums took centre stage. A great time too to use a worldwide platform to further broadcast vital BLM effort. Vika Azarenka was rightfully picked by experts as this fortnight’s dark horse. A great run to the final and an extra special first set on Saturday dared many to dream of a modern motherhood fairytale win. Osaka was blown away in those opening exchanges.

Eventually though the Japanese showed her quality and athleticism to break her opponent’s renowned resolve.

Whether Azarenka will get another chance (one hopes she will) remains to be seen. Can Osaka now add a few more slams to her tally? It is perhaps an easier question.

The ladies delivered, now so too would the men; at last a contest solely representing the new breed and a chance for only the ninth different major champion in over fifteen years.

In short, Sasha Zverev will be hurting for quite a while after this one. The German was blistering right from the off and just wasn’t faltering, one irresistible groundstroke followed another and the serve was working well. Yes Thiem was incredibly tight, but he wasn’t completely hapless as the scoreline was beginning to suggest – Zverev was just unplayable.

Then, at the tail-end of the second set, the momentum visibly shifted. At 1-5 down the Austrian looked to finally loosen up and dominate some exchanges, Zverev’s level dipped just a bit and -despite the German still taking the set 6-4, the tide you felt had already turned.

Then, it was Zverev’s turn to start unraveling and the 3rd and 4th sets were soon over as quickly as the first two.

It was in the fifth where things leveled out, both players regained their mojo and the tennis was of scintillating quality. We were reminded again that this would be either players’ maiden slam as both served for the title and faltered.

One final tiebreak ensued with momentum again swinging wildly and it was Zverev who blinked first. Had he closed out that second set at 5-1 you feel that Thiem would have only continued to dismantle and Zverev’s tears would instead be those of joy at the trophy presentation.

Fine margins, two great finals, four worthy champions and a bright future for our beloved sport.

To Paris then.

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