History is on Novak Djokovic’s side as he faces Dominic Thiem in the 2020 Australian Open final. The defending champion and 7 time Australian Open champion faces an opponent in Dominic Thiem who is playing in his first hard court slam final and is 0-2 in previous slam finals. Thiem is a skilled opponent though and is going to compete hard for the title. Damian Kust, Harsh Bhoot, Andrew Watson and Jim Smith offer their predictions for the final.
Dominic Thiem vs Novak Djokovic
Damian: With how their recent head-to-head matchups went, it is certainly tempting to pick Thiem here. The Austrian nicked a very tight third set tie-breaker at the ATP Finals just two months ago. Thiem will surely feel like he has a shot and try to stay on the offense, blasting away the ball and hoping to dictate the play. However, we’re talking about the Australian Open here. Djokovic won all seven of his championship matches here and is arguably the greatest slow hard court player ever.
He will also benefit from having one more day of rest (not that he really has much to rest from). Thiem, on the other hand, has spent much more time on the court and appeared a little bit gassed in some parts of his semifinal against Alexander Zverev. I expect it to be quite similar to Thiem’s last year’s Roland Garros final – the Austrian will start well, matching the opponent from the baseline but will ultimately get worn out, having to push through the supreme counterpunching of his rival. With not much effort required from him in this tournament so far, Djokovic will be as fresh as a daisy and ready to slide through the court and turn defense into offense all day long. Djokovic in 4
Harsh: Not many boast of a competitive head to head against the Serb but Dominic Thiem brings a 5-6 win loss to the all important final. While most of his wins have come on clay, his hard fought victory at the ATP finals last year was a well deserved win for the Austrian who’s improved a lot on the hard courts. We all know Djokovic is going to be locked in and even if he’s not at his best, the Serb holds a massive mental edge when it comes to the Australian Open. Thiem has shown that he’s capable of holding his own against the Big 3 on numerous occasions but to topple Novak in Melbourne is no easy task. Djokovic no doubt draws a ton of confidence after an astonishing first set turnaround against Federer while the same can’t be said for Thiem who dropped his serve four times and looked nervous at times against Zverev. The Austrian can’t afford that but against the best returner and counterpuncher he may well have to wait for his maiden Grand Slam. Djokovic in 4
Andrew: Whilst the Serbian leads the head to head 7-4, Thiem’s four victories have actually come in their last six meetings. Three of the wins were on Thiem’s preferred clay surface but the last meeting was in London at the ATP Finals and Thiem triumphed there. That will provide the Austrian with a lot of confidence that he can take Djokovic on and win. In this tournament the players boast a similar 92% hold ratio on their serve. Djokovic has the superior return record though, breaking his opponents 6% more often than Thiem. It should also be mentioned that Djokovic has massively underperformed on break points on his own serve. He faces far fewer than Thiem in general and this should correct itself over time. Mentally Djokovic must feel that he owns Rod Laver Arena. He has won the tournament seven times, won his last 13 matches at the tournament and dropped only one set in the 2020 Australian Open. Meanwhile Thiem is at his first non-clay Grand Slam final. Thiem will threaten Djokovic with his heavy groundstrokes. The match up reminds me slightly of peak Wawrinka versus Djokovic. If the Austrian blazes his shots and hits his target he can win. The problem is doing this over five sets. I think Djokovic’s consistency, awesome defence and bulletproof confidence will see him through. Djokovic in 4
Jim: This promises to be a great match. Thiem has excelled at the Australian Open, with his victory over Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals surely one of the finest of his career. And having played in two Grand Slam finals at Roland Garros, he should not be overawed by the occasion. But he faces now one of the toughest tests in the men’s game. Djokovic has won all seven of the Australian Open finals he has played, being taken the distance only once. Last year, he hammered Nadal. The Serb has, however, lost his last two matches against Thiem, including at the ATP Finals in London, which should give the fifth seed real hope of pulling off the upset. Any passivity from Djokovic will surely be punished by the power of Thiem. But Djokovic rarely displays any passivity at the Australian Open. If he plays with his usual conviction, from close to the baseline, and serves well, he should have just enough to beat the Austrian. Djokovic in 4