The big day of the Australian open is here. We started with 128 men and we are down to the last 2. Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic are without doubt the two best players of the last 2 weeks. Novak Djokovic is the clear favourite to lift his 8th Australian trophy but none can write off the Austrian sensation.
Djokovic got off to a strong start, especially on his serve. Thiem seemed to be struggling with his serve though and got broken in the first game that he served. Just when Djokovic seemed to be coasting, Thiem broke and leveled the set at 4-4. But he was not able to hold his serve at 4-5 and gifted the set with an ill timed double fault. Most expected Djokovic to switch gears and win this in straight sets. Strangely though, he struggled in the second set. He had the trainer by his side during the break and had lots of fluids. His trademark shot making was nowhere to be seen. Thiem took full advantage and got the crucial break at 4-4. He was able to wrap the second set up on the back of some strong first serves.
The third set was more struggle for Djokovic. He looked so out of sorts and Thiem racked up 6 games in a row across the second and third sets. Thiem won the set 6-2 and was one set away from his first grand slam title. Having looked down and out for a long time, Djokovic started the fourth set in a much better fashion. Both players held serve till game 7 but then, Thiem blinked first in game 8 to hand Djokovic the advantage. In hindsight, the volley missed by Thiem in that game, cost the Austrian dearly. Djokovic sensed blood and pounced on his prey. He held his serve to love to take the fourth 6-3. It was not really surprising that this match went the distance, given the quality of tennis from both players. It was still anyone’s game and Thiem was not ready to give up just yet. Serving first in the decider is perceived to be an advantage but you are never in control against Djokovic. Thiem was put under enormous pressure in the third game and he wilted and surrendered the break. The Austrian showed plenty of guts in the rest of his service games but Djokovic was just too strong and did not give Thiem any free points on his serve. He converted his first match point and kept his record of never losing in an Australian open final intact.
Thiem had a lot of positives to take from this performance and he is only getting better. He is too good not to win at least one grand slam. His time will come sooner rather than later. All he needs is patience and perseverance.