Dominic Thiem will have a chance to win his first Grand Slam title when he goes up against the unstoppable Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open men’s final at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
Thiem, 26, has never won a Grand Slam. Djokovic, 32, on the other hand, is aiming to win his 17th Slam title and inch closer to Roger Federer’s mark of 20 Slam titles and Rafael Nadal’s mark of 19.
Part of the generation of men’s singles tennis players waiting on the wings to take over the battle for supremacy from the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic trio, the Austrian Thiem will know that he has a golden opportunity to write himself into history in Sunday’s final.
Unstoppable force vs Immovable object
Thiem won three of his five titles last year on hard court, including his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells. He also claimed his first hard court win over Djokovic in the ATP finals last year. In fact, Thiem has won four of the last matches between these two.
However, beating Djokovic in Melbourne is possibly the toughest tasks in contemporary sports. Seven of the Serb’s 16 Grand Slam titles have been earned at the Rod Laver Arena. No one has won more than seven AO titles.
Only Federer (thrice), Nadal (once) and Stanislas Wawrinka (once) have been able to win here since Djokovic announced in 2008 that Melbourne would be his fortress.
Thiem’s two previous major finals were at the French Open, where he has been runner-up to 12-time champion Nadal the last two years. Against Djokovic at the AO, he faces a similar challenge.
Road to Final
Moreover, Djokovic has been on a golden streak this year, and this is what makes him the overwhelming pre-match favourite. He has dropped just one set on way to the final.
Thiem, on the other hand, has had to fight his way through his half of the draw. He saw through the quarterfinal against Nadal 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 and was stretched in the semifinal by Alexander Zverev as well before he won 3-6, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6. Not just that, he was taken to the fifth set by unseeded Alex Bolt in his second round match.
Djokovic has spent almost six hours less than Thiem on the court at the Australian Open this year.
Will the men’s singles final see the emergence of a new champion or will Djokovic race away to his 8th title in Melbourne?
(Match starts at 2 pm IST)
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