Novak Djokovic dug deep to beat Dominic Thiem in a thrilling five-set final and win his eighth Australian Open crown.
The No 2 seed looked to be in trouble when he lost the second set and exchanged angry words with the umpire. Thiem then ran away with the third set in search of his first grand slam title but Djokovic was not to be denied. He found extra reserves of mental strength to produce some incredible tennis and win the next two sets and settle a thrilling final.
However, Djokovic continued to pile the pressure on during Thiem’s service games and a double fault from the Austrian gave the second seed the set 6-4.
Djokovic has a formidable record here when winning the opening set but Thiem made the better start to the second, this time his opponent double-faulting on break point in the third game.
Thiem was relentless in his commitment to going for broke on big points, and it cost him in the eighth game as a wild backhand handed the break back. But Djokovic still was not mentally settled and two time violations on successive points in the next game cost him a first serve, and Thiem claimed the advantage back. Djokovic tapped umpire Damien Dumusois sarcastically on the foot as he returned to his seat, and Thiem served out the set 6-4.
Djokovic was rattled, and his mood did not improve at the start of the third set as Thiem immediately broke serve again. The Austrian extended his winning streak to six games before a weary-looking Djokovic finally got back on the board.
The Serb had taken a pill after the first set of his semi-final against Roger Federer, and at 1-4 he again consulted the doctor, sitting with head bowed and shoulders slumped. Djokovic’s level lifted again at the end of the set but it was far too late to save it as Thiem took it 6-2 to move to within one set of a first slam title.
The early stages of the fourth set were crucial for Djokovic, and a saved break point in the third game was a big moment.
The second seed began serving better again and looking more stable, and he made the breakthrough in the eighth game before serving it out 6-3.
Djokovic drew first blood in the deciding set when three errors on Thiem’s forehand gifted the Serb a break in the third game.