Dominic Thiem Books A Spot In His First Ever Aus Open Final
Austrian Dominic Thiem will play in his first Australian Open final against seven-time champion Novak Djokovic after overcoming German Alexander Zverev in their Friday night semi-final.
Thiem had a slow start in their Rod Laver Arena clash but rallied for a 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) victory in an absorbing encounter that lasted three hours and 42 minutes.
After losing the last two French Open finals, 26-year-old Thiem is gunning for his first grand slam title.
"It was an unreal match," Thiem said.
"Two tie breaks, so tough and so close - it was almost impossible to break him.
"But Australian Open finals is absolutely unreal."
In a high quality match, Thiem took control early in both tiebreaks which proved the difference.
He had three match points and while Zverev, playing in his first major semi-final, saved one, Thiem wouldn't be denied.
"Against Rafa and today I had a great start in all the tie breaks," Thiem said.
"I think I was almost all the time 2-0 or 3-0 up and that gives you so much confidence for the rest of it."
The world No.5 looked flat in the first set after his gruelling four-hour quarter-final win over top-ranked Rafael Nadal and admitted he was feeling nerves with a place in the final on the line.
After breaking early in the second, he blasted an ace on set point to level at one-apiece before the match was bizarrely stopped for almost 10 minutes after roof lights went out behind the baseline.
Zverev, who had the best serving record of the tournament, hit the mark with a stunning 90 percent of his first serves in the third set but Thiem produced 20 winners to stay in the hunt.
The pair exchanged breaks to be locked at 3-3 and it looked like Zverev had momentum with two set points on Thiem's serve at 4-5, but the German failed to convert either.
The Austrian got off to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak and gave himself three set points but only needed one with a searing backhand winner to take a two sets to one lead.
Squaring off in the youngest semi-final in a grand slam in 10 years, the pair went toe-to-toe in the fourth set before Thiem again stepped up to secure his place in the decider.