The Australian Open, the final: Novak Djokovic vs. Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

Is Dominic Thiem ready to dance, finally? It is possible, because the Austrian has played substantially better over the past two years. However, the big test now is to take out Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final. The Serbian has won it seven times, incredibly consistent and oh-so powerful. Mentally, when he is locked in, he can nail his first and second serves, he can smashed his backhand crosscourt, and now when he rushes to the net, he can drop it down and softly put it away. 

However, starting in August, Djokovic began to be frustrated and irritable. He was O.K. but not fantastic. Djokovic can rush it, from the baseline, and yank it wide. Then, he would yell at himself, and here and there, he would throw his racket.

Thiem can get frustrated, too. The 26-year-old has never won a Grand Slam yet. He was somewhat close, in the final at Roland Garros, twice, and Rafa Nadal pounded him. But this week, Thiem kept his head up, and slowly, he smacked his one-hander backhand, and his heavy forehand, deep and true. Plus, he can really run. It took him a long time to be more efficient and creative. He will say in front of everyone that when he is totally on, he can beat anyone.

Here is reality: Thiem has beaten Djokovic four times, while the Serbian won it six times. That is pretty close, because they have played against each other on clay — which Thiem loves — and on the hard courts, Djokovic can rise up at the heavens, quickly. 

Djokovic beat the famous Roger Federer in straight sets in the semis, somewhat easily, not only because the Swiss was injured, but because the Serbian was on top it. He has beaten him many times. When Djokovic is confident, he really believes that he can out-stroke him.

If he wins, Djokovic will have 17 Grand Slams. Before he retired, he could have at least 20 majors. He has a solid four more years to be healthy to win a lot of titles. He wants to, and he has said that, frequently.

But Thiem kept raising his game during the past two weeks. He won’t be nervous, because he has been there enough now at the all-important Slams. He wants to walk on court, start playing, and find out how he can push Djokovic into the wall. And over it. 

Yes, Mr. Novak is the favorite, but Thiem is finally locked in. He will win it in the fifth set, so tight, and kissing the lines. A winner.

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