The Australian Open draws to a close down in Melbourne on Sunday when the men’s final takes place inside the Rod Laver Arena as Dominic Thiem takes on the defending champion Novak Djokovic for the first Grand Slam title of the year.
Both men have made good progress in the tournament and are deservedly at this stage, and hopefully they will combine for an excellent final to round off what has been a great couple of weeks of tennis.
Heading into this week Dominic Thiem would have been filed into the dark horse but unlikely winner category, but to his credit he has played really tough and totally deserves to be in the final of this tournament. When you think he ended last season in the final of the ATP Finals, you could argue this is his second major final in succession. He didn’t win at the o2 though so he’ll be eager to make up for that here and claim his first Grand Slam title.
Thiem has overcome two serious challenges in the last two rounds to make this final. He beat Rafael Nadal in a marathon quarter final and then to his credit roused himself to go again against Alexander Zverev in another huge tussle in the semi-final. The concern is that he won’t have the legs to go again in this final, but if he does have then he is hitting the ball extremely well and is entitled to be a threat in this match.
The world number two Novak Djokovic is one win away from successfully defending his title and getting his 2020 singles campaign off to the perfect start. He has breezed through his draw since dropping a set in the opening round. That was the only time he has lost a set although how he didn’t lose the opener to Roger Federer in the semi-final only the Swiss star will know. That in itself showed the best quality of the Serbian – his ability to force you to win everything you get against him.
Although he has been completely dominant in recent times this week, I do think Djokovic needs to find another gear in this final. Milos Raonic just never turned up in the quarter final and Roger Federer was clearly hampered movement wise in the semi-final and even then he still troubled Djokovic early on. That isn’t to say that he hasn’t got those gears in him, but they will need to come out here I suspect.
Head to Head
Dominic Thiem must have one of the better records on the tour against Novak Djokovic as he has won four of their 10 meetings, including their last two battles last year and four of their last five overall. Their two meetings last year saw Thiem win in five sets at Roland Garros and in a deciding tiebreak at the o2 Arena. Djokovic has won their two outdoor hard meetings but they were 2014 and 2016 when Thiem was literally a clay court player only. Thiem leads 2-1 in their Grand Slam battles although all three have been at Roland Garros.
I think this will be a much closer final than the odds suggest. I actually think there is an ounce of value in taking Dominic Thiem to win the match but taking on Novak Djokovic in this part of the world isn’t a profitable move and there is the concern that the longer it does go the more likely for Thiem to run out of legs, although you would hope that adrenalin will get him through as much as possible.
I think the best bet for this final is to play the over 37.5 games, a line which is low enough that we should only need four sets for it to cover. Seven of the last 10 sets these two men have played have contained 12 games or a tiebreak and a couple of those sets in this match in a four set game safely sees this line covered. If it goes five we’re naturally in so the only danger is a straight sets win. I don’t see that though so I’m on the over here.
WON – Back Over 37.5 games for a 4/10 stake at 1.80 with 888sport