What began as an early one-sided contest developed into a classic with Dominic Thiem raising his game with aplomb. However, not even the Austrian's best tennis was good enough to get past the masterful defending champion Novak Djokovic who fought his way back to be crowned the Australian Open men's singles champion for the eighth time.
The past fortnight has seen quite a few see-saw battles, but none as dramatic as the one witnessed at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday evening with the match swinging one way and the other before one of the greats of the game displayed his class to record a 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win in five sets.
The defending champion broke Thiem's serve right away to veer his way to a 4-1 lead in the first set winning 13 return points to Thiem's 3 with the scoreline at 4-2. Thiem broke back to level things up at 4-4 but Djokovic took the first set getting 80% of his first serves in.
It was the Austrian's turn to seize the initiative while Djokovic looked edgy, gesturing with sarcasm before losing his hold in the second set after being broken early.
Djokovic received a couple of time violation calls and made no secret of the fact that he was displeased with the chair umpire while Thiem imposed himself in the third set and the scoreline read 4-0 in favour of the fifth-seed with the Serbian star struggling to find his way.
The unforced errors continued and Thiem looked all set to stamp his authority on the contest allowing his opponent to win just 2 games in the third set but there was a twist in the tale after all.
Djokovic had never trailed by two sets to one in an Australian Open final in the past but saved a break point early to come back with a vengeance and force Thiem into a decider.
Thiem's fans looked distraught as the Austrian fought to hold serve trailing 2-4 in the fifth set but managed to claw his way back to 3-4 much to the delight of coach Thomas Muster.
Thiem served to remain alive in the contest at 3-5 and let loose a few booming first serves to prolong the evening but was unable to match the prowess of his more fancied opponent on the day despite putting up a memorable fight.
It was a minute short of a four-hour marathon at the end of which Novak Djokovic earned his eighth men's singles title at Melbourne Park while Thiem inched closer to the big three of the tennis world after having beaten Rafael Nadal earlier in the tournament.Published 02 Feb 2020, 18:53 IST