Dominic Thiem prevailed in a gritty five-set final against Alexander Zverev to lift his first Grand Slam title at the US Open on Sunday. The match didn't always showcase the highest quality of tennis though, and in its aftermath there has been a raging debate about the level of men's tennis in the absence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
World No. 6 Matteo Berrettini has now come to the defense of the two players, claiming that the magnitude of the occasion played a role in the nerves of both Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev.
It saddens me to read these things about Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev: Matteo Berrettini
While speaking to the press after his second-round win at the Rome Masters on Wednesday, Berrettini didn't take criticism of the quality of the US Open final kindly.
"How sad these criticisms (are)," said the Italian. "It saddens me to read these things about the young players who are facing the first great tensions, with the pressure of the existence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic."
Following the final, Dominic Thiem became the first player born in the 1990s to lift a Grand Slam trophy on the men's tour. With it he also overcame his Slam finals jinx, having lost the previous three he had featured in.
Alexander Zverev, on his part, led the match 2-0 through some aggressive shot-making early on. The German was within touching distance of becoming the first player from the 'Next Gen' to win a Slam, and the enormity of that was reflected in his jittery play over the last three sets.
Berrettini himself was a semifinalist at the US Open last year, defeating Gael Monfils in the quarterfinal before bowing out to Kevin Anderson at the next stage. He drew parallels between his match against Monfils, and Dominic Thiem's triumph.
"I didn't expect two robots in the final. When I think of my match against Monfils in the quarterfinals a year ago, my hand shook and I double faulted," the Italian said.
Men's tennis' fabled 'Big 3' have dominated the sport for well over a decade now, and have established a vice-like grip on the Grand Slam events. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have won 56 Grand Slam titles in the last 16 years, and had lifted 13 in a row before the US Open.
Dominic Thiem's win makes him the first man to break that hegemony since 2017, and the first new Grand Slam champion on the ATP tour since US Open 2014, where Marin Cilic prevailed.Published 18 Sep 2020, 13:52 IST