MELBOURNE, January 31, 2020 (by Alessandro Boroch)
No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem fought back from a set down to eventually overcome World No. 7 Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(4) in three hours and 42 minutes and reach his third major final. Thiem became the first Austrian to reach the final of the Australian Open.
“It was an unreal match, two tie-breaks, so tough and so close,” Thiem said in an on-court interview. “It was almost impossible to break him, with [him getting in] such a high percentage of first serves. An Australian Open is unreal, and what a start to the season so far.”
After a nervous start from both players, Zverev took the helm by winning 10 consecutive points to gain a 5-3 and 30-0 lead on Thiem’s serve. The 22-year-old German eventually won the opening set in 40 minutes as Thiem netted a backhand.
Thiem had to rely heavily on his return until the beginning of the second set, since Zverev catapulted an incredible 80 per cent first serve into the court. Nevertheless, in his second service game, the German fell back into old patterns, hitting two consecutive double faults to gift a break to Thiem. In the course of the second set, both showed major deficits when serving. Zverev recovered from a break down, closing the gap to make it 3-3, but was immediately broken back afterwards. Serving for the set at 30-40, 5-4, Thiem found himself under pressure, having to face a break point. However, the Austrian proved patience, went on saving the first and another second break point to finally equalize the score after hitting a set-winning ace.
The upcoming third set was similarly balanced and embattled, Thiem secured an early break, but Zverev was able to break back for 3-3. The Hamburg native continued to perform incredibly well on first serve, being able to get 32 of 33 first serves into the court until 5-4.
In the subsequent game, Thiem was once again under enormous pressure, facing a set point. Albeit, the No. 5 seed proved all his class, saving the crucial point with a backhand winner down the line. Thiem was able to fend off another second set point before eventually producing a vital hold, hitting a crashing forehand winner. The Austrian dominated the subsequent tie-break with aggressive tennis, scoring a half-volley and forehand winner to grab the only two mini-breaks.
The fourth set was dominated by holds of serve, with no player earning a break point and therefore facing each other in another tie-break. Even though Zverev was able to immediately fight back from two mini-breaks down in the beginning, he had to admit defeat in the end after failing to convert an overhead smash and another booming forehand winner from Thiem.
Down the road, Thiem hit 10 aces, won 77 per cent (74/96) first serve points and saved nine of 14 break points. Furthermore, he struck 43 winners compared to 40 unforced errors and won 85 per cent (23/27) points at the net.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 31, 2020
The 26-year-old Vienna Neustadt native awaits No. 2 Novak Djokovic next, who never lost a final at Melbourne Park, holding a 7-0 record. However, Thiem is far from chanceless, having prevailed in four of the last five encounters against the Serb. Most importantly to mention is their latest clash on indoor hard court at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2019, where Thiem emerged victorious in three close sets.
“I have been twice in the Roland Garros final, twice facing Rafa, and now I am facing Djokovic, he is the ‘King of Australia’, winning seven titles here,” said Thiem. “I will try my best and do everything I can to win. But if I walk off the court in two days’ time a loser, I will be patient and trust the process and continue to work hard.”