Don't ever count out Novak Djokovic in an Australian Open final.
Not when he’s down to sets to one, not when he’s arguing with the umpire and railing at the crowd and not when he’s in regular dialogue with the trainers.
The Serbian champion took out his eighth Australian Open championship on Sunday night, and one of his most hard-fought ever with a 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Austria’s Dominic Thiem, in one of the most rollicking and entertaining men’s finals at Melbourne Park for some time.
Djokovic willed himself back into the contest in the fourth set after the hard-hitting Austrian appeared to be in control with his impressive groundstrokes and pace around the court leaving Djokovic floundering.
By the end of the third set, Djokovic, having received back-to-back code violations for time wasting, had argued with chair umpire Damien Dumusois and at one stage appeared to brush his foot at a change of ends, which under the Grand Slam rule book could lead to a hefty fine. Any contact with a match official is clearly forbidden.
“Great job man. You made yourself famous, well done,” he said sarcastically to Dumusois.
But despite his having sought brief medical attention, the prolonged break at the start of the fourth set seemed to invigorate Djokovic and at the same time, Thiem started to miss a few groundstrokes. Djokovic broke his serve in the eighth game and then held to take the set.
And then in the third game of the fifth set Djokovic broke Thiem again. In the next game he saved two break points, but after that he was able to hold serve more comfortably against the clearly tiring Thiem to win the match in just under four hours.
With the win, that will return him to the No.1 world and he now sits two wins clear of Roy Emerson and Roger Federer for the most Australian Open titles. He has now won 17 Grand Slam titles and is closing fast on Roger Federer (20) and Rafa Nadal (19).
He is now the first player in the Open era to win Grand Slam titles in three different decades and extends the winning streak of Grand Slam titles won exclusively by the big three – Djokovic, Nadal and Federer to 13. It also means the last 13 major championships have been won by players aged 13 and over.
Thiem will be disappointed, because in the second and third sets he played some brilliant tennis. His forehand was working and shot selection was giving Djokovic all sorts of problems and helped lead to his frustration.
He is now the fourth player in the Open Grand Slam era to lose his first three Grand Slam finals. Ivan Lendl, Andy Murray and Goran Ivanisevic were the others.
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