Tennis is a numbers game and the digits declare Novak Djokovic’s dominance down under.
Eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic is playing for his second career three-peat in Melbourne and if he does it he will join rival Rafael Nadal as the second man in history to win the same Slam title nine or more times.
The defending champion survived a storm of shot-making from Dominic Thiem and mid-match dizziness fighting back for a 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph in a gripping 2020 Australian Open final to capture his 17th career Grand Slam championship.
US Open champion Thiem says there’s “no doubt” Djokovic is a strong favorite to defend Melbourne again.
“If these two guys [Novak and Rafael Nadal] are competing at a tournament, I think they are still the top favorites,” Thiem said in his pre-tournament presser. “A little bit ahead of the other players, including me. I think, especially Novak here in Australia, because he won it eight times, he’s the top favorite for the title, no doubt.”
Oddsmakers concur staking the Serbian as a firm favorite to take the title at +120 ahead of Nadal, Thiem and ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev, who are all listed at +500.
While Djokovic, who is 8-0 in AO finals, has his fingerprints all over the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, Thiem says quick court conditions, supreme confidence and a wildly supportive Serbian fan base in Melbourne can all make Rod Laver Arena feel like Djokovic’s home court.
“I think conditions are suiting his game perfect,” Thiem said. “Then obviously if you win a tournament so many times… well, I don’t know how it is, but you get automatic confidence somehow.
“One thing what’s maybe little bit different this year is that the last years he had unbelievable support from the crowd. I think many Serbian people living here, they all came here to support him. Was such a nice atmosphere for him.”
Photo cedit: Mark Peterson/Corleve