Thiem books spot in Australian Open final vs. Djokovic

Austria’s Dominic Thiem, ranked No. 5 in the world, rallied from a set down to move past Germany’s Alexander Zverev on Friday and into the finals of the Australian Open against seven-time champion Novak Djokovic.

Thiem, who will be playing in his third Grand Slam final, ousted the seventh-ranked Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) in three hours and 42 minutes. He becomes the first Austrian to reach the final in Melbourne.

“It was an unreal match, two tie-breaks, so tough and so close,” Thiem said in an on-court interview after his win. “It was almost impossible to break him, with (him getting in) such a high percentage of first serves. An Australian Open final is unreal, and what a start to the season so far.”

A win on Sunday against No. 2 Djokovic could move Thiem to a career-high No. 3 in the ATP rankings past current No. 3 Roger Federer of Switzerland. The 26-year-old, who knocked off No. 1 Rafael Nadal of Spain in the quarterfinals, was the runner-up to Nadal at the French Open in 2018 and 2019.

“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,” Thiem said. “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.”

Thiem found success at the net, winning 23 of his 27 points there, and also hit 43 winners, including 10 aces. Zverev, who hit 103 of his 127 first serves into court, converted five of his 14 break point chances.

Zverev was bidding to become the third German man to reach the Australian Open final, following in the footsteps of Boris Becker (1991, 1996) and Rainer Schuettler (2003).

“It was a great tournament (and a) great match today,” Zverev said. “I came to this tournament differently. I didn’t play my best. I went step-by-step, match-by-match. Usually I didn’t do that in Grand Slams. Maybe I can take that away, but right now I’m still a little bit disappointed about the match.”

He continued: “I had a lot of chances. I had 14 break points. That should be plenty. … (I’ve) just got to execute better next time. But credit to him, he’s playing unbelievable tennis right now.”

Thiem will meet Djokovic, who never has lost an Australian Open final, on Sunday.

“We are playing in tough times, (we) young players,” Thiem said, per “We always have to beat all these unbelievable legends.”

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)