History was on the line.
Novak Djokovic was aiming for an eighth Australian Open title, Dominic Thiem the leader of the chasing pack was hoping to loosen the grip the top three have on the majors.
Novak Djokovic started like a man on a mission. He found that early break of serve and very quickly raced to a 4-1 lead. Dominic Thiem has continued to show incredible fight and determination when in matches and fought back to 4-4.
The Austrian did well to level up with Djokovic but then handed out a free gift double faulting whilst serving to stay in the set as Djokovic took a 6-4 lead.
Losing a set like that would bother anyone but Dominic showed great spirit and began to do his thing. He plugged away on the baseline penetrating the defence of Novak Djokovic and managed to then get this inside-out forehand into play and once he did he had Djokovic scrambling which not many have done on Rod Laver Arena against the Serb.
Djokovic was scrambling and up against it. The crowd were rallying behind Thiem and the umpire got involved in proceedings dishing out two time violations in three points for Djokovic who once he was broken and lost the set had words with the umpire.
On his way to his seat he tapped the foot of Damien Dumusios, gave him the thumbs up and at the change over and said to him:
“Great job man. You made yourself famous. Well done”
The third set continued to go with the relentless momentum of Dominic Thiem.
He continued to power his way around the court and raced to a 6-2 lead.
During the set, Djokovic did look a little wary and had the trainer. He told them he was feeling tired and for the second match running took a tablet to try and wake himself up.
At the end of the set, Djokovic headed off court and you could see in the corner of Rod Laver Arena the Djokovic team were in deep conversation with each other.
A positive for Djokovic was that he did look much more with it towards the end of the set and how would Dominic Thiem go from here?
Novak Djokovic had never lost an Australian Open final winning all seven.
Novak Djokovic had never come back from two sets to one down in a Grand Slam final.
The opening seven games of the fourth set went on serve and at 3-4 the tension continued to ramp up and Dominic Thiem became tight on serve.
A double fault set up two break points for Djokovic, his first in some time. An inside-out forehand saved one but a rash forehand converted for Djokovic.
The Serb was back in action. Sealed with an ace and a fifth set was required!
Who would blink first? A good hold from both players settled any early nerves in this late stage of the match.
The errors from Thiem off the forehand increased and for the first time since the first set a fist pump from Djokovic towards his team as he broke in the fifth set.
Dominic Thiem wasn’t going to go home without a fight. Survival though was the name of the game for Novak Djokovic who consolidated his lead and saved two crucial break points.
Momentum had swung completely from where this was an hour ago, Thiem facing battles to hold off Djokovic and hold his own service games to keep what had turned into a slight hope alive!
Another deuce game and the Austrian kept in touching distance before a sprint of service game finished with an ace to extend that lead again to 4-2.
As the clock ticked past 11:30pm in Melbourne the pressure continued on Thiem’s serve. He saved a break point and served his way out of trouble but could he affect Djokovic?
No trouble at all for the Serb and Thiem followed up with his own easy service hold leaving Djokovic to serve for a 17th Grand Slam title.
No issues at all.
An 8th title in Melbourne, simply insane!