Novak Djokovic made the final of the men’s Australian Open on Thursday and on Friday we will find out who he will take on in the title decider on Sunday when Dominic Thiem meets Alexander Zverev for the right to battle it out with the defending champion.
These two German speakers are the best of friends away from the court but on it this one could be a feisty affair as they meet for a place in their first Melbourne final. Both look in good form so we should be set up for a juicy contest.
This has been by far the best week of Dominic Thiem’s career in the Grand Slams away from the clay, and there is every reason to think he might not be finished yet either. He has seen off some very competent opposition to make it to this semi-final, has battled when he has needed to and oozed class at other times. There is no doubt he has enjoyed the slow conditions so far this week, but he showed in Indian Wells last year that he can mix it in faster conditions too.
Thiem arrived in Melbourne looking to back up his run to the final of the ATP Finals at the o2 at the end of last season and he has more than done that. His win over Rafael Nadal in the quarter final was compelling but that match was physically brutal and you wonder if it will have an impact on him here. Logic would suggest it has to but time will tell in that regard. Nevertheless, the fact he has made a Grand Slam final in the past probably has him a worthy favourite.
The 2018 ATP Finals winner Alexander Zverev is usually back at home watching this stage of a Grand Slam on his couch having been knocked out by now, but that is definitely not the case this year. He is playing brilliantly and whether he is free rolling without any expectations coming into the event whatsoever I’m not sure, but something has clicked and he is looking every big that player that the majority of judges expected him to develop into.
Zverev has only dropped one set in making it this far, against Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final, but he won the next three comfortably so even dropping that didn’t upset him. He is striking the ball brilliantly and cracking his serve with serious authority. If he can hold it together mentally from here on in, he has an excellent chance of taking this tournament down. He needs to keep the pedal to the metal for that to happen though.
Head to Head
These two men have met on eight previous occasions in their careers and it is Dominic Thiem who holds an emphatic 6-2 lead over the German. Their most recent meeting came at the o2 back in November when Thiem steamrolled Zverev in the semi-final there. That was his third win in their last four battles. The Austrian has also won their two previous Gramd Slam tussles although they were both at Roland Garros where he is probably more suited. Zverev won their only outdoor hard court meeting back in Beijing in 2016.
Dominic Thiem might have had the better of these two in their overall meetings but I’ve got to think that quarter final clash with Rafael Nadal is going to have left its mark. Not only did he go over four hours with him but any Grand Slam win over a legend of the game like that has an emotional effect on top of the physical one. It would need an amazing effort for Thiem to be at 100% here which makes me think that Alexander Zverev is overpriced.
Zverev has cruised through the draw and has looked really good in the process in this tournament and will be much the fresher of the two. I think these conditions suit him and his big booming serve is going to win him a lot of free points, which once again is to his advantage. Thiem will have a go here, it is his DNA, but when you weigh everything up I think Zverev has enough going for him for the German to be the value here.
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