Dominic Thiem will go up against Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s US Open final after beating Daniil Medvedev in a thrilling semifinal at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in the early hours of Saturday.
The Austrian world number 3 won in straight sets but it was anything but a straightforward victory as he twice had to break back as the Russian third seed who was runner-up to Rafa Nadal in 2018 served to take sets two and three.
Thiem showed great mental resolve to fight back and eventually win 6-2 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5).
It will be his fourth Grand Slam final but the first where he will not face one of the ‘Big Three’.
The 27-year-old has lost two major finals at Roland Garros to Nadal, while he was beaten in the Australian Open final in January by eight-time champion Novak Djokovic.
This time, he will hope to do one better against Grand Slam final debutant Zverev, who earlier fought back from two sets down to beat Pablo Carreno Busta.
Sunday will also witness the first male major singles champion born in the 1990s.
The eventual winner will be the first new Grand Slam champion since the 2014 when Croatia’s Marin Cilic won the US Open.
The absence of Nadal and Switzerland’s Roger Federer at the behind-closed-doors Grand Slam, plus the expulsion of Serb top seed Novak Djokovic for hitting a line judge with a ball, has given the chance for a new name to be etched onto a major trophy.
Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka was the last man outside of the ‘Big Three’ to win either the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon or US Open, following his win at Flushing Meadows in 2016.
German Zverev very nearly botched his chance at a maiden slam final as he looked out of sorts in falling to a two-set deficit against Spain’s Carreno Busta.
The 23-year-old 5th seed showed incredible resolve to turn the match around and win 3-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-3 against the 20th seed.
But the former world number three is now one win away from a first Grand Slam title but must first navigate past great friend and rival Thiem on Sunday.