The Australian Open final is set, and Dominic Thiem is the last man in. Thiem secured his third-ever grand slam final appearance on Friday after defeating Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(4) in the semifinals. He’s the first Austrian to ever reach the Australian Open finals, where he’ll face Novak Djokovic.
Both Thiem and Zverev played lights out tennis over the three hour and 42 minute match. Zverev served to start and easily won the first set, and Thiem turned around and won the second set without much trouble. When the third set started, both players upped the intensity level.
Thiem got the first break of the third set, but Zverev responded by running down a great backhand from Thiem and winning a phenomenal exchange. Zverev then won three straight games, but the momentum wouldn’t stay with him long. The set went to a tiebreaker, and Theim started showing more boldness as he forced three straight set points and took the third set.
Thiem was one set away from winning it all. Several times Zverev had to serve to keep himself in the match, but he was running out of steam. The fourth set also went to a tiebreaker, but those are Thiem’s specialty. He won his fifth straight tiebreaker and earned a spot in the Australian Open final.
Thiem at one point struggled with an upset stomach, but a freak occurrence may have given him a boost. Midway through the match a row of lights went out in the upper part of the arena, causing a five minute delay. “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond was played while the crowd sang along, and Thiem felt right at home.
Now Thiem has a chance to do something almost no other tennis player has done: beat two of the Big Three to win a grand slam final. The last test, against seven-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, might be the toughest.
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