The next big Thiem
WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde (The Freeman) - September 17, 2020 - 12:00am

Down two sets in this year’s US Open final, Dominic Thiem was about to perfect the art of losing a slam final. The Austrian had it close in this year’s Australian Open but bungled a 2-1 sets lead to hand Novak Djokovic his 17th slam. Too close it must have hurt him more than his two consecutive losses in the French Open finals combined, bowing down to the king of clay, who else.

But last Monday morning, he made sure he would do better, turned more resolute each time Alexander Zverev pushed him to the edge. Thiem bailed himself out by passing blinding shots that blanked the towering German at the net. No one blinked in a match deadlocked at the three-hour mark, 2-sets and 1-game all, only to be repeated an hour later at 2-sets, 6-games and 6-all in the tiebreak cliffhanger. But Thiem finally prevailed, dropping his back in a sigh of relief from the ghost of getting too close and still lose.

Evenly matched, too dramatic and intense that in the end, the gentlemen forgot about the crown they dread own and locked their sweaty bods in a tight bromantic embrace. Both did the coolest handshake that Gustavo does to me. Not Kuerten. But the one who watches me watch tennis to wait for that split second chance to wrestle his aging dad.

Men’s tennis finally crowned a new king outside the big three and a few other one-slam wonders, except Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray who won three each. Even if he didn’t get it from the three kings, Thiem has the game fit for a king. That massive one-handed backhand is more lethal than Stanimal. He behaves well in court and definitely doesn’t look bad either. He is not alone though. Zverev proves he could win big too. Wipe away those tears Sascha. Sooner or later, you will be Alexander the Great. But Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas lurk to book a place in the next generation not so big three.

If Dominic is the next big Thiem in men’s tennis, Osaka is the Nao in the distaff side. Down a set and 2-0 in the second, the sweet, shy Japanese star clawed back to collect her third major against rejuvenated Victoria Azarenka who threatened to do a Kim Cljisters – winning the US Open while raising a toddler.

Azarenka started invincible, won a lopsided first set and was up 2-0 in the second. But Naomi found a way to turn the match around, denying Vika the US Open crown the third time, the first two courtesy of Serena Williams who now contemplates if she could still win another slam at her age.

Despite that heartbreaker of a loss however, Azarenka claimed personal victory over her bloated ego. We can see she has matured, no longer as cocky as before, but hasn’t dropped those hideous, awkward, unbecoming moves she again unleashed after finally beating Serena in a slam. Stop goofing around Vika, no one is laughing. But I forgive you, after I saw how cute your little boy is. Now that’s the sensory delight the world needs to see. Just play your best tennis, spare us from your court antics.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC
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