Dominic Thiem of Austria is in his third grand slam singles final. On Friday from the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, Thiem, the fifth seed, beat Alexander Zverev of Germany 3-6, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 in the men’s semifinal of the 2020 Australian Open.
Thiem needed to overcome a series of factors and possible distractions in order to beat Zverev. Early in the first set, feathers from a bird slowly found its way on to the court. Also in the first set, there was mild rain and the match was temporarily delayed so organizers could close the roof. Then in the third set, the match was delayed seven minutes because a row of lights went out.
The Thiem win over Zverev lasted three hours and 42 minutes. However it was the third set that took the longest as it went 82 minutes to complete. Thiem won 7-3 in the tiebreak.
The fact that Thiem has had a lot of success in tiebreaks recently could put him in a strong position against Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the second ranked player in the world, in the men’s final on Sunday. At the 2020 Australian Open, Thiem has won his last five tiebreaks as he also won all three of his sets in tiebreaks against world number one Rafael Nadal of Spain in his quarterfinal win.
However it should be noted that Thiem lost his first two tiebreaks at the 2020 Australian Open. He was beaten by Australian wildcard Alex Bolt in a third set tiebreak in the second round and then was beaten in the third set by 29th ranked Taylor Fritz of San Diego, CA in the third round.
A reason for Thiem’s success over Zverev was his success at the net. Thiem won 23 of 27 points at the net, while Zverev won 36 of 51 points when coming in. Clearly, Zverev looked the most comfortable at the baseline.
Head-to-head, Djokovic has the 6-4 advantage against Thiem. However it is Thiem who has won the last two meetings–in the semifinals of the 2019 French Open and at the round robin of the ATP Finals in Great Britain.
Thiem’s two previous grand slam finals came at the French Open. In 2018 and 2019 Thiem reached the final before losing to Nadal.