Then came expansion - a pair of events played amid face masks and disinfectant in Berlin, one on grass and one on hard court (he won both), then participation in Novak Djokovic's ill-fated Adria Tour in Serbia (he apologized after multiple players tested positive).
He accumulated 28 matches in all, and for Thiem, it felt fitting.
This Sunday the US Open will crown a different champion. It is in his nature to work.
However, Thiem needed 4 sets in 10 of those 22 matches, and in another, the opponent retired.
"I have a chance".
The US Open 2020 can be a watershed of unimaginable importance for the future of tennis: no Big Three in the final, but Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem, who will try to involve the fans as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokoivc always do. He is the first German man to reach the US Open final since Michael Stich in 1994, and the first German man to reach the final at any Grand Slam since Rainer Schuettler at the 2003 Australian Open.
So now there will be a Thiem vs. Zverev final between two members of the 20-something set long seen as capable of winning Grand Slam titles. Although Williams made it all the way to the semifinals this year, her absence in the finals - like Djokovic's - left room for other rising stars like Naomi Osaka to shine on this year's cutthroat women's singles roster.
Zverev's 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Pablo Carreno Busta is his first Grand Slam match victory after trailing by two sets. Their playing style is quite in contrast with each other with Thiem being right-handed with a single-handed backhand, while six feet six inches tall Zverev serves big, despite making too many double faults, and uses a double-handed backhand. The Grand Slam victor will not be named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic for the first time since Stan Wawrinka lifted the trophy in NY in 2016 and will be the first to debut his majors record since doing so, also at the US Open., Marin Cilic in 2014. I knew, look, it's a grand slam semi-final.
Andy Murray knew all about grand slam finals before he won one - he had lost four of them and he had tied himself up in knots trying to cope with the disappointment.
Medvedev also had a two-set lead over Nadal before he lost in NY previous year, which according to the Austrian was one of the "better Slam finals ever" and he expects the Russian to pose a big threat, with both players desperate to break their Slam duck. But of the two, the older, more experienced Thiem seems the readier.
Zverev regularly tops 135 mph and is averaging more than 19 aces per match, the most for anyone who played more than two matches in this U.S. Open.
Then there is the matter of the pressure.
Dominic Thiem of Austria hits a forehand against Daniil Medvedev of Russian Federation in a men's singles semi-finals match on day twelve of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, September 11, 2020. One of the greatest ones in last years.