MELBOURNE, Jan 31: Tireless Dominic Thiem came from a set down to outlast German Alexander Zverev and make his first Australian Open final on Friday, booking a showdown with seven-time champion Novak Djokovic.
Austria’s Dominic Thiem stretches out for a return to Germany’s Alexander Zverev during their Australian Open semifinal in Melbourne, on Friday. – AP/PTI
The 26-year-old fifth seed, the first player from Austria ever to reach the Melbourne decider, battled past seventh-ranked Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4) on a sweltering evening.
Defending champion Djokovic awaits him after the second seed ended Roger Federer’s dreams in straight sets on Thursday to make his eighth Melbourne Park final.
Thiem has his work cut out against the Serb who is on a 12-match unbeaten streak this season and has won all seven of the Australian Open deciders he has contested.
And if Djokovic needs extra motivation, winning on Sunday will see him reclaim the world number one ranking after Rafael Nadal crashed to Thiem in the last eight.
“It was an unreal match, two tie-breakers, so tough and so close. It was almost impossible to break him,” said Thiem.
“Being in the Australian Open final is unreal. What a start to the season for me.”
Thiem had dealt with semifinal pressure before, although always on the slower red clay at Roland Garros, where he reached the past two finals only to be beaten by Nadal. – AFP