World no. 3 Dominic Thiem should be among the favorites in New York in a couple of weeks, chasing the first Major title. The Austrian has played in three finals on the highest level so far, losing in Paris to Rafael Nadal in 2018 and 2019 before suffering a heartbreaking loss against Novak Djokovic in Melbourne this year.
Toppling Nadal in the quarters, Thiem was the player to beat together with the Melbourne king Djokovic, giving his 120% against the Serb in the final and still settling with the runner-up prize. After a titanic battle, Novak produced a 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph in four hours, adding the 17th Major trophy to his tally.
Djokovic endured all the obstacles and stood strong in the end, defending 2000 points and returning to the ATP throne. It was the 11th Major title for the Serb on hard courts, joining Roger Federer at the top, becoming the third player after Federer and Rafael Nadal with eight crowns at a single Major.
Djokovic won ten points more overall, forcing more errors from Dominic and hitting fewer unforced mistakes, although all the numbers were mighty close. Nothing could separate them in the mid-range exchanges while the Serb had a slim advantage in the shortest and most advanced rallies, recovering after a poor third set to reign supreme.
There were five breaks on each side and Novak used all of his experience to cross the finish line first and stay undefeated in the semis and finals at the Australian Open. Thiem kicked off the deciding set with a strong hold, matched by Djokovic who leveled the score at 1-1 with a hold at love after a forehand winner, looking like a player on the mission after the fourth.
Novak finally grabbed his first break since the second set in game three when Dominic sprayed a forehand error, with the Austrian squandering two break chances in the next one that could have brought him back to the positive side of the scoreboard.
In his third Major final, Dominic Thiem lost to Novak Djokovic in five sets in Melbourne.
Novak survived those two break points when Dominic hit a backhand long, rattling off the last three games and moving closer to the finish line.
With his back pushed against the wall, Thiem had to face a deuce in the fifth game, winning the next couple of points for a vital hold and staying within one break deficit. Facing a break point in the seventh game, Dominic repelled it with a service winner, closing the game with another powerful serve to stay in touch.
Novak produced a service winner in game eight to keep his advantage, forcing the rival to serve for remaining in the match at 3-5. Showing no signs of nerves, Thiem held at 15 when Djokovic sprayed a backhand mistake, reducing the deficit to 5-4 and returning to stay in the competition.
He opened the game with a backhand down the line winner, denied by Djokovic who placed an ace for a 15-15 and held after a forehand error from Thiem to celebrate the title. “In my third Major final at the Australian Open, the chances were very close, it was an epic match,” said Dominic Thiem.
“Competing against the best players, like Novak Djokovic, you can’t make mistakes, even the little ones can decide whether to win or lose.”