It was a question we asked ourselves 2 weeks ago at the outset of the Australian Open – can anyone stop Novak Djokovic winning the Australian Open for an 8th time? That question will be answered tonight, with Dominic Thiem facing the Djoker in the final of the men’s singles on Rod Laver Arena. World no. 5 Thiem takes on world no. 2 Djokovic and is looking to capture his 1st grand slam in what will be his 3rd final. Novak is looking to capture his 17th Grand Slam, and boasts an unblemished 7-0 record in finals at Melbourne Park.
If you’re in Australia, you can catch all the action on Channel 9 from 630pm AEST, or on your mobile device with the 9NOW App. If you’re overseas you can catch the action on the Sky Go App or on your TV with Eurosport.
The Djoker & The Thiem
Not many people in world tennis (albeit any) can boast a favourable record against Novak Djokovic in recent times. Thiem is that man. He boasts 4 wins from his last 5 matches against the Serbian, including a win against Novak at the end-of-year ATP Tour Finals in 2019 on a hard court. Thiem is an aggressive dynamo, with the weaponry to hit anybody in tennis off the court. So with Thiem’s recent prowess over Djoko, and the firepower to hit him off the court, it can be very tempting to pick Thiem heading into this match. Unfortunately, he is coming up against the best slow hard court player ever.
Playing into Novak’s favour is an extra day of rest, compared with Thiem who looked jaded at points during his semi-final win over Alexander Zverev. There is no doubt Domi will come out firing early, and could potentially take the first set. But Novak will be supremely confident in his ability to absorb that heavy artillery for long periods, and counter-punch well to turn that defense into offence. The key lies in Thiem’s ability to start well and ride the momentum of a first set win into the following sets. Novak has the propensity to get frustrated with himself and search for shots that aren’t there to be hit.
Thiem will take a huge amount of confidence from his recent victories over Novak, particularly the most recent win on hard court at the end of 2019. He managed to jag a tight 3rd set tie-break in that match and snatch victory. The issue is that if that match was played over 5 sets, Thiem would have had to come out in the 4th (and potentially 5th set) and win another set against Novak. Difficult to say the least. Djokovic is potentially the most determined, resilient and dogged tennis player ever. He just seems to want victory more than the other person. Always. Any passiveness from Djokovic will surely be punished by Thiem. But why would Novak be passive? He owns that court. I can see Thiem taking the 1st or 2nd set, but can’t see him winning 3 out of 5 sets. Cream rises. Novak in 4.
Prediction – Djokovic in 4 sets