Annacone: 'Novak Djokovic would have lost a Major final without best-of-five format'



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Annacone: 'Novak Djokovic would have lost a Major final without best-of-five format'

Novak Djokovic is the most notable apostle of the best-of-three format at Majors, saying that would make things more fluent and more comfortable to follow for the younger generations. The famous coach Paul Annacone reminded Novak that he won the last year's Australian Open title thanks to the more extended best-of-five format and that he would have lost to Dominic Thiem if it was a "regular" best-of-three encounter.

Novak struggled in the third set and recovered in the early stages of the fourth to end his drought and score 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 won ten points more, forced more Dominic's errors and hit 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 that terrible third set to reign supreme.

Thiem got broken in the first game and pulled it back at 2-4 to stay in touch. The Serb grabbed another break at 5-4 when the Austrian hit a double fault to take the set and gain momentum. Unlike the opener, Thiem was more focused in the second set's closing moments, earning a break at 15 in the ninth game and securing it with a hold at 15 to level the overall score.

Carried by this momentum, the Austrian raced into a 4-0 lead in set number three, fended off a break chance in game eight and won the set 6-2, moving 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, feeling much better on the court.

Paul Annacone spoke about the 2020 Australian Open final and Novak's struggle.

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.

Thiem repelled a break point at 2-4 with a service winner and closed 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. Dominic opened the tenth game with a backhand down the line winner before Novak took charge to bring the game home and seal the deal.

"We saw what happened in the Australian Open 2020 final. Novak Djokovic trailed two sets to one to Dominic Thiem and looked flat for a moment, as Thiem played great tennis. Novak managed to recover in the fourth set and save energy for the decider, like all the big players when it mattered the most. Without the best-of-five format, he would have lost the match," Paul Annacone said.