Novak Djokovic will take on Austria’s Dominic Thiem in tomorrow’s 2020 Australian Open final. The Serb is looking for his eighth title in Melbourne, whilst Thiem is making his debut appearance in the final round of the slam.
World number two Djokovic has never lost in the final, winning it seven out of as many times. In fact, every time he has made the semi-final he has gone onto to be crowned champion. Last year marked his first Melbourne title in three years, as he blitzed past Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3 in a relatively uncompetitive final.
26 year old Dominic stands in the Serbian’s way, hoping to pull off an upset on Rod Laver Arena. The world number five has twice been a grand slam finalist, with both occasions coming in Paris at the French Open. In both 2018 and 2019 he was beaten by the clay court king Nadal in the final at Roland Garros.
Before the this month, Thiem had previously never been beyond the fourth round in Melbourne. But in the last twelve months the man from Wiener Neustadt, Austria has significantly improved on a hard court. He won the Indian Wells masters event last year, defeating Roger Federer in the final last year. And to wrap up a good year, Thiem made the final of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena.
Djokovic may not be so pleased to see the Austrian is his opponent tomorrow. Thiem is something of a bogey opponent for the world number two, and has beaten him in four of their last five meetings. Though the Serb leads 6-4 overall, Thiem has beaten him at the French Open twice in the last three years, whilst also getting the better of him at the Monte Carlo masters in 2018 and at the O2 last year. In fact, underdog Thiem leads him 2-1 across their three grand slam meetings.
En route to the final Djokovic has only dropped one set. This came in the first round against German world number 37 Jan-Lennard Struff, who won the third 6-2. But since this minor blip the 16 time grand slam champion has looked formidable and has won every other match in straight sets. He downed former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic in the quarter finals in a spectacular performance, before doing the same to an injured Roger Federer in the semi.
Though the Swiss star started intensely and surged to a 5-2 lead in the first set, Djokovic was able to turn the tides and come back to win 7-6 6-4 6-3. In their 50th pro meeting against each other, it marked Djokovic’s 27th win against Federer.
Dominic Thiem has had a tougher time getting to the final, in total dropping five sets along the way. After a simple first round straight sets win against Adrian Mannarino, the Austrian was stretched to five sets against Australian wildcard Alex Bolt, when he has to fight back from two sets to one down. After this, he dropped a set in his third round match against American world number 34 Taylor Fritz before going on to thrash former quarter finalist Gael Monfils in the fourth.
Arguably Thiem’s best win came in the quarter final when he bettered world number one Rafael Nadal. Before the match Nadal boasted a 9-4 lead other the 26 year old, but Thiem was sublime in their first ever meeting at the Australian Open. Across four sets he won three tiebreaks to gain his first victory against the Spaniard on a hard court.
In the semi final, Thiem met debut slam semi finalist Alexander Zverev. Despite a fantastic serving performance from German Zverev, Thiem returned heroically and also defeated him across four sets, coming back from losing the first.
The bookies have fancied 32 year old Djokovic to win the title from the beginning of the tournament, however there is no denying that Thiem must fancy himself to have a good chance. He has only lost to the seven time champion once in the last since May 2017.
The men will take to the Rod Laver Arena court at 8:30am GMT tomorrow.