Novak Djokovic has a record-extending eighth Australian Open title in his sights, but must prevail over Dominic Thiem to secure it on Sunday.
The two players booked their places in the Slam’s decider after semi-final victories over Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev respectively.
Thiem has now entered uncharted waters, having never reached a Grand Slam final away from Roland Garros before. In contrast, Djokovic knows exactly what to do when it comes to Australian Open finals.
The world No 2 has not lost an Australian Open final, despite playing in seven, and has the added incentive of returning to the top of the world rankings with victory.
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Djokovic v Thiem – Tale of the Tape
32 AGE 26Serbian NATIONALITY Austrian6ft 2in HEIGHT 6ft 1in2 WORLD RANKING 577 CAREER TITLES 16140.2million CAREER PRIZE MONEY (US dollars) 22.4million16 GRAND SLAM TITLES 0Winner (2008, 11-13, 15, 16, 19 ) AUSTRALIAN OPEN BEST Finalist (2020)6 HEAD-TO-HEAD WINS 4
This time last year, Djokovic delivered a masterclass in hard-court tennis and beat Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3. It took him just two hours and four minutes and the result sealed the 15th major title of his career.
At the time Djokovic hailed his performance: “It’s one of the best, if not the best, matches I’ve played in a Grand Slam final,” he said
During his 2020 campaign the second seed has dropped just one set since the start of the tournament. It came in the first round against Jan-Lennard Struff and he followed it up with a 6-1 set in response.
Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open dominance
- The Serbian player is now 15-0 once he reaches the last four in Melbourne
- No other player has won more Australian Open titles in history, Roger Federer and Roy Emerson are behind him with six each
When it comes to Thiem’s form, and really making a mark at the Grand Slams, then he has been banging on the door for a little while with fans willing him forwards.
The Austrian’s four-set quarter-final triumph over Nadal laid down a marker and could prove to be a mental turning point for him, as he out-played Nadal at his own game.
The fact Thiem out-played Nadal on hard court (away from Paris’ clay) is another indication of his ever-growing maturity and potential.
In Thiem and Djokovic this final has two exceptional strikers of the ball, and two players who are equally adept at cutting points early with their net play.
Djokovic is widely known as the best returner in the game, but against a hard-serving Alexander Zverev (whose serve has returned with interest), Thiem showed his return can be effective too.
Dominc Thiem’s numbers and form
- The fifth seed has spent 18 hours and 55 minutes on court so far the this year’s Australian Open
- The Austrian has won four of his last five meetings with Djokovic, despite being 6-4 down in the head-to-head
- He has hit 57 aces so far and has a fastest recorded serve of 220km/hr during that time
The fifth seed knows he has the ultimate Australian Open challenge on his hands.
He will have watched Djokovic problem-solve against an under-cooked Federer and come back from 5-2 down in the first set. Thiem, like everyone else in world tennis, knows just how comfortable the Serb is in Melbourne.
“It’s unbelievable. Twice in a row Roland Garros finals, twice facing Rafa, and now I’m facing Novak here.” Thiem said.
“I’m always facing the kings in a final. I’ll try my best and of course I’ll try everything to win. I’m looking forward to it a lot. We are playing in tough times, we young players. We always have to beat all these unbelievable legends.”