Australian Open: Can you knock down the 'king' Novak? Dominic Thiem looks for cracks in Novak Djokovic's armor
MELBOURNE: King Novak Djokovic he has won all seven Australian Open final that has played, is on a winning streak of 12 games and will become the number one in the world if it succeeds in the Melbourne Park decisive on sunday.
Against those overwhelming odds, few are giving Dominic Thiem Lots of opportunity to tear off the title of your iron grip and secure an inaugural Grand Slam.
But the Austrian, notably, is the one with the recent advantage.
Djokovic is 6-4 in his face-to-face career, but Thiem has won four of the last five.
Three of them were in their favorite clay, but they also came from a set to beat the Serbian on hard courts in the ATP finals in November.
Djokovic is the first to admit that the skilled 26-year-old has successfully refined his game in the past 12 months to compete on all surfaces.
And he recognizes that it is only a matter of time before Thiem wins a Slam.
I don't think it's really 'the next generation'. It has existed for many years. Now he is an established player among the top five and the top 10, Djokovic said.
It's just a matter of a game here and there that can potentially give you a Grand Slam title, which can actually be among the top three in the world, he added.
Despite the platitudes, Djokovic, 32, is banking on adding yet another chapter to his storied Melbourne Park career, and heads into the match with an extra day's rest after dispatching an injured Roger Federer in his semi-final on Thursday.
The world number two has been firing ever since arriving in Australia a month ago, and was unbeaten over six ATP Cup singles matches as he led Serbia to the inaugural title ahead of the Australian Open .
Yes, I am satisfied with the way I have been feeling and playing. I thought the ATP Cup went very well for me, I spent many hours on the court, singles and doubles, said the 16-time Grand Slam winner.
"Obviously got a lot of positive energy from that competition. I dropped only one set so far up to the finals. Hopefully I'll be able to perform as well as I always have in the Australian Open finals."
Thiem, who has defeated four seeds to reach the qualification, including Rafael Nadal in the last eight, is no stranger to the Grand Slam finals, reaching the last two at Roland Garros.
But this is his best effort outside the French Open.
He praised Djokovic as the king of Australia and insisted that his recent shocks against him counted little in the favorite Serbian tournament.
It's true, I won, I think I think more about the last meetings than him. But I think it doesn't count so much. It is absolutely your comfort zone here, he said.
Always play your best tennis in Australia for many, many years. So I hope that too in the final.
"All I can do is my best again, play great tennis again, and of course take a look at the last matches we had... try to repeat the good stuff that I did there."
Despite minimizing his chances, Thiem has the weapons to annoy Djokovic.
He is supremely fit and considered one of the fastest on the court, with a backhand with one hand that generates a heavy turn and a forceful right blow.
While slower clay has always been his favorite surface, beating Federer in the Indian Wells final last year was a turning point for the Austrian on hard courts.
That victory gave me a lot of relief and a lot of confidence because I finally got my first Masters 1000 title on the hard track, he said.
I took a big step forward. I really developed my game, I think in the right direction.