The ghost of Novak Djokovic will not figure in the equation as Dominic Thiem takes a run on Sunday at his first Grand Slam title, facing Alexander Zverev in the US Open final.
The Austrian second seed who has been defeated in three previous title matches at the majors has no concerns that the world No. 1 is absent after Djokovic was defaulted out of the event a week ago for accidentally injuring a lineswoman.
With all of the Big 3 – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic – missing here, it’s Domi’s time to impress..
“From the moment Novak was out of the tournament, it was clear that there’s going to be a new Grand Slam champion,” Thiem said on Saturday after defeating 2019 finalist Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 7-6(7), 7-6(5).
“From that moment on, that was also out of my mind. I was just focusing on the remaining guys left in the draw.”
Thiem holds a 7-2 record over Germany’s “Sascha” seeded fifth and also in the hunt for his first Grand Slam honour.
Thiem won their last match, an Australian Open semi, last January, before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, shutting down tennis for five months.
“Now it’s Sascha remaining, the last one, my opponent in the finals,” Thiem, 27, said. “I will fully focus on him and just go into that match like all other matches I had so far in this tournament.”
The Austrian called his opponent “a hell of a player, one of the greatest ones in the last years. He’s won all titles besides a major.
“He will try everything that he’s capable of doing to win the title. It’s
going to be a super difficult match.”
Thiem is keen – but not anxious – to break his Grand Slam title duck.
“It’s the biggest goal and also the biggest dream of my tennis career.
“(That was) since the moment I played the first final of the French Open 2018. It’s the biggest goal for me.
“I was super-close in Australia (against Djokovic), it was hard to digest that loss..
“But now i have another chance in the finals on Sunday. It’s pressure for me.
“At the same time I try to think not too much about it, no. At one point definitely I’ll try everything to achieve the goal, to win the final.”