Zverev had the trophy in his sights when he broke for 2-1 but Thiem, encouraged by his coach, Nicolas Massu, somehow found a second wind to hit back immediately.
Thiem is 0-3 in Grand Slam finals.
While others were more uncouth in their assessment of the men's final.
After losing the first two sets, Thiem made an exceptional comeback and won the next three sets in a match that lasted for more than four hours.
Then they played to 6-6 in that.
The experience of playing three Grand Slam finals previously was supposed to be an advantage for the Austrian against an opponent who was featuring in his first final at a major.
A tenacious Thiem sensed the fear in Zverev's arm to wrestle away the momentum. A wondrous victor on the stretch helped Thiem close the deficit further but Zverev's serve and volley tactics enabled him close it out and move one set away from his maiden Grand Slam.
But Thiem would finally close out victory, falling onto his back behind the baseline as Zverev pulled a backhand wide to complete a dramatic finish.
The 27-year-old world number three, beaten in his first three Grand Slam finals, started as favourite but appeared to have blown his golden chance as he fell two sets behind.
Zverev - who himself came within two points of the victory - walked around the net to offer a handshake and hug to his pal, two gestures rarely spotted in this era of social distancing. He also broke Thiem's serve twice.
Covid-19 : Israël va se reconfiner pendant trois semaines
Malgré ces restrictions significatives des libertés individuelles, le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu se veut rassurant. Par contre, dans les endroits ouverts, le maximum de personnes autorisées est fixé à 20.
Thiem will have to come from a set down, just as he did when he beat Zverev in the Australian Open semifinals.
Djokovic, Federer and Nadal brushed off the competition after Cilic's unlikely 2014 win at the US Open, and while age means they are unlikely to make it another six-year wait for another player following Thiem's victory, it will be down to the younger generation to prove this recent outcome was not an anomaly inspired by the freakish circumstances of Djokovic's exit. He called that match "super, super close".
At the presentation ceremony, as they both addressed each other, their camaraderie was there for everyone to see. He has seven major doubles titles and 10 singles titles.
"[My parents] were there with me for every tournament", he said. "There's no debate", Allaster said.
Both players have the game to be a Grand Slam champion, but the weight of the moment played a paramount part in who would actually hold up the trophy.
Dak Prescott opens up about depression
The two-time Pro Bowler said his symptoms became so severe that he lost motivation to train and prepare for the upcoming season. RT Cameron Erving is listed as the starter with La'el Collins out at least the first three games with a hip injury.
Only matches played at Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium had full complements of line judges aiding the chair umpire.
Up two-sets-to-love over Dominic Thiem in the US Open final, the world No. 7 looked destined to finally break his hoodoo and win his first grand slam title.
Thiem's victory meant that men's tennis saw a new grand slam victor after 2014.
Thiem, the No. 2 seed, is in its fourth opportunity to win one.
Thiem became the first player since 2016 not named Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic to win a major tournament.
Deux chutes et un abandon pour Fabio Quartararo à Misano — Moto GP
Le Bernois a pris la 3e place à Misano derrière l'Italien Matteo Ferrari et le Belge Xavier Simeon. Thomas Lüthi (Kalex) est entré dans le top 10 en Moto2 pour la troisième fois consécutive.
The last time anyone did it in a Grand Slam final was in 2004, when Gaston Gaudio roared back to stun Guillermo Coria.