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“Thiem could barely swing the ball – I knew that feeling” – Match Points excerpt

In the latest episode of Match Points, Marion Bartoli talks to host Josh Cohen about the mental strength Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev showed in the US Open final.

September 15, 2020
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In the latest episode of Match Points, former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli was impressed with the mental strength from both men in the US Open final – particularly eventual winner Dominic Thiem.

“You could tell how stressed both players were,” she told host Josh Cohen. “I saw a lot of matches from both of them, I never saw Dominic Thiem being in that kind of stress, especially the first two sets.

“He could barely swing the ball. I knew exactly that feeling. You want to do it, your brain wants to do it, but your body just doesn’t respond. That is entirely due to the pressure of that match and the magnitude of it.”

The Frenchwoman said that she thought that both Thiem and opponent Alexander Zverev were very aware of the occasion – and the chance they had to win a first Grand Slam in the absence of the Big Three, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Inner fire

And she added that she thought that Thiem and Zverev’s friendship made it even harder for them both.

“Sometimes if you play against someone you don’t get along very well with it is easier to find an inner fire,” she said.

“Because they are such close friends…I think it makes it even tougher to find a way to swing that ball.”

Even though the standard of play was not as high as one might have hoped in such a showpiece occasion, Bartoli thought that the extreme mental strength on show made the final a memorable one.

“Of course the level was not the top level we have ever seen in a Grand Slam final, but for me the mental effort both of them put in during that match was quite extraordinary,” she said.

“When you play so badly, especially for Dominic at the beginning of the match, to still find an inner strength, to keep fighting, to keep grinding, to keep finding ways to get back into that match, it is as respectable as playing well and winning a Grand Slam.”

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