Dominic Thiem believes the occasion got the better of Novak Djokovic in the 2021 US Open final, which was won by Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. According to Thiem, Medvedev went about his business with aplomb and didn't pay heed to the history, while Djokovic couldn't do the same because the pressure on him was "inhuman".
Novak Djokovic was one win away from becoming the first man in more than 50 years to complete the Calendar Slam. A win against Medvedev would have also given the Serb sole ownership of the record for most Majors, ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
However, Djokovic began the match very nervously, coughing up a string of unforced errors. To make matters worse, he struggled with his return of serve, giving the Russian several cheap points on his delivery.
The World No. 1 appeared flat and looked devoid of any ideas, with pressure writ all over his face right from the first point. Daniil Medvedev on the other hand showed no signs of nerves, and Dominic Thiem said while speaking with Eurosport that the Russian won because he focused solely on playing his best tennis.
"Medvedev didn't care about all that," Thiem said. "He played sensationally from the beginning to the end, didn't do anything stupid the whole match and, on top of that, he shot winners right and left."
Daniil Medvedev won over 80% of his first-serve points in the match and went the entire first set without dropping a single point on that shot. The Russian also broke Novak Djokovic's serve early in the match, setting the tone for what was to come.
Dominic Thiem highlighted all of those things during his conversation with Eurosport.
"In addition, he served really well against the best return player," Thiem said. "He completely deserved to win it. With the early break in the first set, he immediately got the momentum on his side and then played at a consistently really, really high level."
Turning his attention to Novak Djokovic, the Austrian asserted it was evident that the Serb was under an enormous amount of pressure.
"On the other hand, you could see the tension Novak Djokovic was under - especially at the last exchange, where he was in tears," Thiem said.
As Daniil Medvedev began to gain the ascendency on Sunday, Novak Djokovic struggled to keep his emotions in check. The World No. 1 admonished himself multiple times during the match and also beat himself with his racket in one instance.
The first and only time Djokovic smiled was when he broke Medvedev's serve at 2-5 in the third set. The Serb then held his own serve to get to 4-5, but he broke into tears at the changeover, seemingly overwhelmed by the cheers from the crowd.
Novak Djokovic was clearly going through a rollercoaster of emotions at that stage. Dominic Thiem on his part believes that was a result of all the pressure that has accumulated within the World No. 1 over the past few months.
"We saw what was going on inside him; also what he had accumulated in the last weeks and months," Thiem said. "That is simply inhuman."
The Austrian further opined that Novak Djokovic is a man with good intentions who has a "really good heart", which is why he reckons the Serb fully deserved the support of the audience.
"I don't know him that well, but I think he has a really good heart and has deserved the love of the whole audience here," Thiem said. "We don't need to talk about his sporting achievements anyway."
He went out thinking 'it's my day'" - Alex Corretja on Daniil Medvedev's confidence against Novak Djokovic
Two-time Roland Garros finalist Alex Corretja also gave his thoughts on the match between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. According to Corretja, the Russian went into the match believing that he could beat the World No. 1.
"Today, he [Medvedev] went out thinking, 'it’s my day', and that’s why I believe he won it," Corretja said.
The Spaniard heaped praise on Medvedev's focus and overall accuracy on his serve, pointing out how you cannot afford to lose points on your delivery against a returner of Djokovic's caliber.
"Daniil was so focused, so precise," Corretja added. "When you play against someone like Novak, you just can’t lose any serves. The accuracy and placement were just perfect. That was one of the keys. In the first game Novak was broken, it was totally unexpected, and from then on everything changed.”