MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic looked tired and worn. He followed Dominic Thiem in the Australian Open final – mistakes accumulate, deficit increases.
Djokovic did what he does. He refused to lose, waited for a chance to jump, and found his best tennis when it was absolutely necessary.
Djokovic returned to the top of Thiem on Sunday evening with an eighth Australian Open title, the second in a row and the 17th Grand Slam Cup, and finished 6: 4, 4: 6, 2: 6, 6: 3, 6: 4 through total.
"Definitely my favorite place, my favorite stadium in the world," Djokovic told the crowd in the Rod Laver Arena during the trophy handover.
This win improved Djokovic's overall record in the semi-finals and finals at this stadium to 16: 0 and means that he will return to number 1 in the ranking and replace Rafael Nadal at this point.
No other man in tennis history has won this hard court tournament more than six times. Only 20-year-old Roger Federer and 19-year-old Nadal have won more Grand Slam individual cups for men than Djokovic.
“Amazing performance. Unreal what you do over the years, ”said the fifth seeded Thiem, who is 0-3 in the grand final. "You and two others, I think you have taken men's tennis to a whole new level. I am proud and happy that I can keep up in these times and in this time of tennis. I was a bit late today, but I hope I can get my revenge soon. "
Both finalists spoke about the devastating wildfires that killed dozens of people and millions of animals in Australia. Djokovic also mentioned the recent death of NBA star Kobe Bryant and one of his daughters in a helicopter crash.
Djokovic turned to Thiem and said to him: "It was not intended to be tonight. Bad luck … you were very close to winning it, and you definitely have a lot more time in your career. I I’m sure you’ll definitely win one of the Grand Slam trophies. More than one. ”
Just over half a year after scoring two championship points against Federer on the way to the fifth Wimbledon final, Djokovic again showed that he can never be counted.
This time it was not easy for Djokovic, a 32-year-old from Serbia. He lost six games in a row against Thiem, who played a similar game and eliminated Nadal in the quarter-finals.
Djokovic lost two sets against one. In the third sentence, he was visited by a doctor and trainer, and desperate for hydration, he looked for water and energy drinks. He gave the chairman a lecture on time violations.
This was not the dominant Djokovic, who made a total of nine casual mistakes in his direct victory against Nadal in the final a year ago. Djokovic prevailed against this sum in the first set on Sunday alone and ended with 57.
It was a physical exam that provided plenty of entertaining exchanges, with 61 points lasting at least nine shots each.
Suddenly, Djokovic stormed when his less experienced opponent stalled and went 5-3 up in the fourth set. A sloppy volley, a double mistake and a bad forehand from Thiem contributed to this.
In the fifth set, another missed forehand by Thiem made Djokovic take the lead 2-1. Djokovic faced a challenge in the next game when Thiem held two breakpoints but was unable to convert. The spectacle would last another 30 minutes and approach four hours, but that was pretty much it.
Djokovic would soon conquer the silver Australian Open trophy, which he won in 2008, 2011-13, 2015-16 and 2019.
He adds this move to his five Wimbledon titles, three by the U.S. Open and one of the French Open.
The 26-year-old Austrian Thiem took second place at Roland Garros with Nadal in the past two years and tried again to become the first man to be born in the 1990s and to win an important individual title.
Instead, the Big Three won 13 consecutive slams and 56 of the last 67.
In addition, Djokovic is the first man in the professional era to have majored in three decades – the 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s.
He wins more and more against rivals Federer and Nadal: this was his fifth trophy from the last seven slams, which he won 5-0 in the final.
This series appeared in danger in the third sentence when Djokovic just watched and shook his head as a thiem slap over him and into it. Djokovic didn't chase him. It wasn't entirely clear what it was about, but maybe he knew he had to save some strength.
Heat, so often a factor in Melbourne, was not an issue. The fresh, cool conditions were pretty ideal at the start, with a light breeze and a temperature of around 70 degrees (20 degrees Celsius). Daylight waned, leaving a purple blanket before dark, accompanied by an alarmingly loud shriek from a flock of seagulls perched on steel railings over the arena.
Not surprisingly, due to his experience and expertise, Djokovic was relaxed, supple and locked up. From the first six points, which took at least nine strokes, he won all six. Within 13 minutes he had a 3-0 lead as a chorus of his nickname: "No-le! No-le! No-le! “- rang the bell.
Thiem fearlessly showed commendable patience and when Djokovic's goal and focus betrayed him, it became a fascinating competition.
At 4-all in the second set Djokovic was warned by the umpire referee Damien Dumusois that he had taken too much time before the serve. A bad drop shot brought the net to a standstill, and Dumusois quoted Djokovic again because he had expired the 25-second time. The punishment was a mistake. A lukewarm serve of 85 mph followed and Djokovic shot a forehand to give Thiem a 5-4 lead.
When Djokovic went to the exchange station, he tapped Dumusois on the left shoe, gave him a thumbs up, sat down and said to him: "You made yourself famous."
It was part of a six-game run that gave Thiem the second set – Djokovic had played 16 consecutive times since the opening round – and control of the third set.
Djokovic entered as it seemed as though Thiem was on the way.