US Open champion Dominic Thiem says he has “dedicated his whole life” to winning his maiden Grand Slam title.
Austrian second seed Thiem fought back from two sets down to beat Germany’s Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.
Thiem, 27, overcame a nervous start – and being unable to serve out victory in a tense deciding set – to win 2-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in New York.
“I achieved a life goal, a dream of myself, which I had for many, many years,” the world number three said.
“I dedicated basically my whole life until this point to win one of the four majors. Now I did it. That’s also for myself a great accomplishment.
“I mean, it’s by far not only myself, it’s an accomplishment from all my team, from all my family. I guess also today is the day where I gave back a huge amount of what they did for me.”
It was an unusual tournament, where several top players did not compete because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the event was held behind closed doors in almost empty stadiums.
That led to some pundits and players suggesting there would always be an asterisk next to the winners in the history books.
But, while six of the women’s top 10 did not play, only defending champion Rafael Nadal, the injured Roger Federer and France’s Gael Monfils were missing from the men’s top 10.
Top seed Novak Djokovic also suffered an unusual early exit after being defaulted for hitting a ball at a line judge in his fourth-round match.
Thiem blamed his nervous start on the pressure of going into the match labelled as the favourite.
He had previously lost the 2018 and 2019 French Open finals to Nadal, before Djokovic beat him in February’s Australian Open final.
“We both didn’t face one of the big three, so I guess that was in the back of the head for both of us,” he said.
“That’s why we were nervous. It was a very good chance for the both of us.”
Zverev was playing in his first major final and believes his time will come, despite the disappointing nature of this defeat.
“I was super close to being a Grand Slam champion. I was a few games away, maybe a few points away,” said the world number seven, who broke into tears during his runner-up speech.
“For me, what upset me the most is not the third set, it’s the fifth set. I had a lot of chances in the fifth set and didn’t use them.
“I’m 23 years old. I don’t think it’s my last chance. I do believe that I will be a Grand Slam champion at some point.”
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