Both seen as being the next generation, and more of the legitimate chasing pack, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev went head to head for the final berth, with Novak Djokovic waiting for them. Thiem is no stranger to this scenario having made back to back Roland Garros finals. Zverev was fighting a mountain of criticism after a tough 2019, and not that great a start to 2020, to boot.
Zverev will have certainly silenced some critics (or maybe not) after a nervy start by both trading breaks. Thiem was taking a little time to find his rhythm while Zverev picked up the pace to break Thiem twice more for the set.
Thiem was the first to break at the start of the second set, with the pair trading a couple of breaks but Thiem regaining his advantage before levelling the match.
The third set saw the same pattern with Thiem going ahead before the first changeover, but was pegged back a few games later by Zverev. This time it could come down to a tie-break, with memories still alive of Thiem’s thrilling win over Nadal winning three tie-breaks. With a mini-break at the start and then end, Thiem nudged ahead.
The fourth set had no let-up in quality with no sign of a break point, as another tie-break rolled around. This was a lot edgier with mini-breaks until Thiem held on to his two serves, bringing up his first match point, and breaking to clinch a first hard-court Slam final.
Talking to reporters, Zverev acknowledged that the better man had won: “I think he has a chance. He’s playing the best tennis of his life. I think he’s playing much better than he played in London, to be honest. I think it was a much better match that we played. I do believe that he has a chance. I do believe he’s playing good enough. I wish him nothing but the best.”
Thiem’s confidence on hard-courts really started with his Indian Wells win, and his performance at the ATP Tour Finals at the end of the year.
Thiem elaborated on the task of facing Djokovic: “I think I have to keep a good balance. Of course, I have to risk a lot. I have to go for many shots. At the same time, of course, not too much. That’s a very thin line. In the last match against him, hit that line perfectly in London.
“Of course, going to take a look at that match, how I played, and try to repeat it. But for sure he’s the favourite. I mean, he won seven titles here, never lost a final, going for his eighth one. I’m feeling good on the court. I’m playing great tennis. So try to be at my absolutely best on Sunday.”
Jamie Murray a win away from an eighth Grand Slam title
In what could sadly be the last time Alfie Hewett can compete, he and Gordon Reid clinched the Men’s Wheelchair Doubles title, beating the top seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer in the final – 4-6 6-4 10-7
New classification rules introduced last August mean that Hewett’s disability is not severe enough.
Talking to BBC Sport, he explained: “There’s a new system that’s come in, and I just don’t meet the requirements for it.
“At the moment it is my last year, so that’s why today meant a lot to me. And obviously Gio [Reid] knew that as well, and coming into that third-set tie-break it was just a case of going out there and giving it my all.
“I shed a few tears at the end, and back in the locker room. We’ve had a great time together, and a good adventure, and if this is the last time I play the Australian Open, then it’s very, very happy memories.”
Whiley claims first Slam title as a mother
Jordanne Whiley, with Japanese partner Yui Kamiji defeated their top seeds as well, Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot 6-2 6-4.
She missed her son Jackson’s second birthday, and told BBC Sport: “I’ve been away for three weeks now and that’s the longest I’ve been away from him so it’s been really difficult,” said Whiley, who won her third Australian doubles title.
“And to have his second birthday yesterday was really emotional for me to be here. But I said to Marc, his dad, my coach and fiance, that if I’m going to be away from him then I have to make everything count.”
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