In the end, a familiar face won on the women’s side, while the men’s draw saw a first-time Grand Slam winner.
Dominic Thiem of Austria defeated German Alexander Zverev, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6, in a match that lasted over four hours. It was the fourth time Thiem has played in a Grand Slam final, but the first time he has walked away with a trophy.
The number-two seed was the favorite, but he quickly fell down two sets and was down 2-1 in the third as it looked like Zverev was going to cruise to the title. But Thiem recovered, and became the first player in the Open era to win in a final after being down two sets.
"It was tough to stay there and to still believe, but I did," Thiem said after the match. "Obviously it was huge pressure in the match, huge emotions. Physically it was super tough. Then also it was not an easy four weeks in general.”
On the women’s side, Naomi Osaka won her second U.S. Open title. It was a far different feeling from the match in 2018 when she defeated powerhouse Serena Williams to claim her first Grand Slam title.
In that match two years ago, Williams became vocally upset with the referee, smashing her racquet and losing her cool. The crowd was behind her, but Williams’ game never recovered and Osaka won her first title.
The shy 20-year-old teared up on the podium as she accepted the trophy in front of one of her idols and a crowd she knew wanted to see Williams overcome what she thought were several bad calls and take home another Grand Slam title.
There was no crowd to deal with inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday, as the number-four seed Osaka defeated Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, becoming the first Asian player – man or woman – to capture three Grand Slam title (she also won the Australian Open in 2019).
“I think I just got through it because during quarantine, I wanted to set myself up to possibly win this tournament,” Osaka said. “I felt like I just worked so hard, I wanted to give myself an opportunity.”
But the real story may have been her activism during the tournament. No longer the shy girl from 2018, Osaka wore a different mask for each of her matches adorned with the name of a Black victim of violence. She came with seven of them, and managed to wear them all thanks to making it to the title match.
They included Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice.
“The point is to make people start talking,” said Osaka.