Dominic Thiem backs Novak Djokovic to win more Major titles in 2023
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 2945
Novak Djokovic returned to his beloved Australian Open in style this January, lifting his tenth trophy at Melbourne Park. Dominic Thiem, whom Novak beat in the Australian Open final a couple of years ago, backs the Serb to win more Majors crowns in the rest of the season.
For Thiem, Djokovic is a player to beat at Majors in 2023, placing him as the favorite at Wimbledon and the US Open and one of the most dangerous competitors at Roland Garros. Novak skipped the Australian Open and US Open last year and was eager to show his best tennis in Melbourne at the start of 2023.
Djokovic lost only one set in seven encounters, overcoming a hamstring injury and presenting his A-game from the fourth round to leave all the rivals miles behind. Novak injured his left leg in Adelaide and did not look good after the opening three encounters in Melbourne despite a couple of routine sets.
His team gave their best to prepare him for the upcoming challenges, and his leg felt fine in the second week. Novak stormed over Alex De Minaur to enter the last eight and gave Andrey Rublev no chance en route to the semi-final.
Never losing in Melbourne after passing the quarter-final stage, Djokovic gained confidence and pushed strong toward his tenth trophy at Rod Laver Arena. The Serb beat Tommy Paul in the semi-final, dominating sets two and three and setting the title clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Djokovic and Tsitsipas showed the most during the event, battling for the title and the ATP throne. Novak delivered a 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 victory in two hours and 56 minutes, prevailing in the crucial moments and writing history books.
Novak broke Stefanos twice and lost serve only once in the third set's early stages. The Greek had a set point on the return at 5-4 in the second set, missing it and finishing runner-up for the second time in the Major finals.
Novak controlled the pace with 36 winners and 22 unforced errors.
Dominic Thiem called Novak Djokovic a player to beat at Majors in the rest of 2023.
The Serb earned his victory in the mid-range rallies with five to eight strokes, staying focused for the entire match and extending his incredible run in Australia.
A nine-time champion made a convincing start, serving well in the opener and keeping the pressure on the other side. Tsitsipas defended two break points in the second game to avoid an early setback before hitting a double fault at 1-2 to fall behind.
Djokovic brought the set home with a booming serve in game nine for 6-3 after 36 minutes. Stefanos produced six comfortable holds in the second set and created a set point at 5-4. Novak denied it with a forehand down the line winner, and the set went into a tie break.
Djokovic forged a 4-1 advantage before Tsitsipas climbed back to 4-4. The Greek missed an easy forehand in the ninth point and placed a backhand long in the next one to offer the Serb two set points. Novak fired a service winner to wrap up the breaker 7-4 and build a massive advantage after an hour and 46 minutes.
Djokovic took a bathroom break and lost his focus for a moment. Tsitsipas broke him at the start of the third set before losing serve a few minutes later. They served well in the next games, and the Greek had to repeat that at 4-5.
He landed two winners at 30-30 and introduced another tie break with a fine hold at 5-6. Novak grabbed two early mini-breaks and raced into a 5-0 lead, using his vast experience and the advantage from the previous sets. The Serb lost the following three points before creating three match points with a forehand down the line winner at 5-3.
Stefanos denied the first two with brave hitting and reduced the deficit. Novak sealed the deal on his third match point at 6-4 to emerge at the top and write history. "Many players can challenge Novak and Rafa at Majors, although they are still tough to defeat in the best-of-five matches.
Novak remains a player to beat at Majors in 2023, although it would be nice to see him battling against Rafa in Paris. If Rafa is fit, he has to be the favorite in Paris, winning it 14 times, which is crazy. Roland Garros should be the event where they are both fit, and it should be a massive tournament for them and their rivals," Dominic Thiem said.