By Alessandro Mastroluca

  • Novak Djokovic [2] b. Dominic Thiem [5] 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4
  • The Serbian celebrated his eighth Australian Open title and became the first to win a major in three different decades in the Open era
  • For the first time, Djokovic recovered from two sets to one down in a Grand Slam title
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Novak Djokovic extended to 13 the streak of consecutive Grand Slams won exclusively by  the so-called Big Three.

 

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Novak Djokovic [2] b. Dominic Thiem [5] 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4

 

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Novak Djokovic became the first man to win at least a major title in three different decades in the Open era. The Serbian, projected to come back to World No.1 for the fifth time next Monday, defeated Dominic Thiem 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 in four hours. He needed to recover from two sets to one down for the first time in a Grand Slam title-match to celebrate his 17th major crown.

The Austrian, looking like a more energetic version of Stan Wawrinka for more than three sets, managed to take control of the rallies from behind the baseline offering Djokovic two equally effective ground-strokes. But Djokovic offered a more complete performance, point in, point out.

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Djokovic left the court for a medical time out at the end of the third set and restarted to master the rallies brilliantly. His serve deserted him in the middle of the match but he succeeded in returning deeply and stepping in whenever Thiem gave him a chance to shorten the point. The Serbian won five more points, in fact, in the 0-to-4-shot rallies and five more in those requiring more than five shots.

Having won four of the five previous meetings after losing the opening five matches against the Serbian, Thiem knew the ideal game-plan – the same he applied at the O2 Arena to defeat Djokovic at the 2019 ATP Finals. The Serbian, however, survived the hardest period of the match and pressured the Austrian, unable to attack constantly with his first shot after serve. His relative weakness when he tried to go for a down the line backhand winner gave Djokovic another, decisive, competitive edge.

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Thiem’s performance, punctuated by the pressure that forced him to go for his shots hurriedly on the most crucial points of the final, demonstrated he’s even more ready to close the gap that separates him from the Big Three. In the closing stages, however, when Djokovic upset him with a serve and volley combination and a drop-shot winner to prevent him from breaking back at 2-1 in the deciding set, the Serbian demonstrated the difference between an assured champion and a very good player.

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The Australian Open became the 13th Grand Slam event won exclusively by members of the ‘Big  Three’ consisting of Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal. The last player outside of those players to win a major men’s singles title was Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Djokovic to win the title at the 2016 US Open.

The future new World No.1 looked very emotional during the trophy ceremony and put his victory in perspective as he tried to look at the whole picture in these hard times, as reported by BBC.

“This tournament sets a high standard for all the others, definitely my favourite in the world, and I am blessed to hold this trophy once again. (But) there were some devastating things that started 2020, bushfires here in Australia, conflicts in parts of the world, one person that I considered close in my life and was a mentor to me, Kobe Bryant, passed away.

“I would like to say that this is a reminder to all of us we should stick together more than ever, be with our families, stay close to the people that love you, that care about you, there are more important things in life and it is important to be conscious and humble about things happening around you”.

Dominic Thiem, who won a Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells, aims finally to avenge these defeats sooner or later, as he said in the trophy ceremony as well.

“I would like to start with a huge congrats to Novak. Amazing achievement and to all your team. Unreal what you have been doing all these years. I’m proud and happy I can compete in these times and period of tennis. I fell short but I hope I can get revenge soon.

“We also saw before and during the event there are more important things in life. We saw what this beautiful country had gone though. We saw all the people affected and the wildlife – we hope they can recover soon and a disaster like this never happens again”.

The ATP Tour continues on 3rd Febraury.

 

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