2020 in Review: Novak Djokovic edges Dominic Thiem for eighth Melbourne crown

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2020 in Review: Novak Djokovic edges Dominic Thiem for eighth Melbourne crown
2020 in Review: Novak Djokovic edges Dominic Thiem for eighth Melbourne crown (Provided by Tennis World USA)

Toppling Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open quarters, Dominic Thiem was the player to beat together with the Melbourne king Djokovic, giving his 120% against the Serb in the final and still settling with the runner-up prize.

After a titanic battle, Novak produced a 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph in four hours, adding the 17th Major trophy to his tally and moving closer to Federer and Nadal in the GOAT race. Djokovic endured all the obstacles and stood strong in the end, defending 2000 points and returning to the ATP throne.

It was the 11th Major title for the Serb on hard courts, joining Roger Federer at the top and becoming the third player after Federer and Nadal with eight crowns at a single Major. Djokovic won ten points more, forcing more errors from Dominic and hitting fewer unforced mistakes, although all the numbers were mighty close.

Nothing could separate them in the mid-range exchanges, while the Serb had a slim advantage in the shortest and most advanced rallies, recovering after a poor third set to reign supreme. There were five breaks on each side, and Novak used all of his experience to cross the finish line first and stay undefeated in the Australian Open semis and finals.

Thiem wasted game points in his first service game to suffer a break, pulling it back at 2-4 following Djokovic's backhand error. The Serb grabbed another break at 5-4 when the Austrian hit a double fault, taking the opener 6-4 and settling into a fine rhythm.

Dominic forged the advantage in the second set's third game before losing it at 4-3 when Novak broke back. Unlike the opener, Thiem was more focused in those moments, earning a break at 15 in the ninth game and securing the set with a hold at 15 to level the overall score.

Novak Djokovic won the 17th Major title at the Australian Open over Dominic Thiem.

Carried by this momentum, the Austrian raced into a 4-0 lead in set number three, fending off a break chance in game eight to win the set 6-2 and move one away from the first Major title.

With no room for errors, Djokovic survived a break chance in the fourth set's third game and took 12 of the last 15 points to rattle off three straight games at 3-3 and gain a massive boost ahead of the decider. Thiem kicked off the final set with a good hold, matched by Djokovic, who leveled the score at 1-1 with a hold at love after a forehand winner, looking like a player on the mission after the fourth.

The Serb broke the Austrian at 1-1 and fended off two break opportunities in the next one to forge a 3-1 advantage. With his back pushed against the wall, Dominic held after deuce in game five for a vital hold that kept him within one break deficit.

Facing a break point at 2-4, Thiem repelled it with a service winner, closing the game with another powerful serve to stay in touch. Novak produced a service winner in game eight to keep his advantage, forcing the rival to serve for remaining in the match at 3-5.

Showing no signs of nerves, Thiem held at 15 when Djokovic sprayed a backhand mistake, reducing the deficit to 4-5 and returning to stay in the competition. He opened the game with a backhand down the line winner, denied by Djokovic, who placed an ace for a 15-15 and held after a forehand error from Thiem to celebrate the title.

Novak Djokovic Dominic Thiem Australian Open