MELBOURNE (AFP) – “King” Novak Djokovic has won all seven Australian Open finals he has contested, he is on a 12-match winning streak and will become world number one if successful in the Melbourne Park decider today.
Against those overwhelming odds, few are giving Dominic Thiem much of a chance to wrench the title from his iron grip and clinch a maiden Grand Slam.
But the Austrian, remarkably, is the one with the recent edge.
Djokovic is 6-4 in their career head-to-heads, but Thiem has won four of the last five.
Three of those were on his favoured clay, but he also came from a set down to beat the Serb on hardcourts at the ATP Finals in November.
Djokovic is the first to admit that the slick 26-year-old has successfully refined his game over the past 12 months to compete on all surfaces.
And he acknowledges it is just a matter of time before Thiem wins a Slam.
“I don’t think he’s really anymore ‘next generation’. He’s been around for many years. Now already he’s an established top-five, top-10 player,” said Djokovic.
“It’s just a matter of one match here and there that can potentially give him a Grand Slam title, that he can actually get in the mix of top three in the world,” he added.