Djokovic had a 66-2 win-loss record at the Australian Open in contests when he took the first set, however, it was soon the Serbian’s turn for his serve to wilt. Thiem broke for 2-1, as an agitated Djokovic sat at the changeover pointing at his head, demanding focus.
In symmetry to the first set, the reigning champion drew the set level at four apiece. Djokovic’s determined scrambling was undone in the very next game, with a brace of double faults and a fizzing Thiem forehand giving the No.5 seed the platform to serve out the set.
Thiem had played six extra hours than his opponent prior to the final, but was looking far fresher. Djokovic was lethargic, whilst Thiem persisted with the power play.
Two hours on the clock clicked over and Thiem wound up his backhand to arrow a winner down the line with sidespin, stamping his authority on the silverware showdown.
Six games in succession did the damage, and the 26-year-old eventually closed out a tetchy game to send Djokovic into unchartered territory. The seven-time champion had never trailed two sets to one in any of his previous seven finals at Melbourne Park.
In the fourth set, Djokovic relied on a couple of punchy serve and volley points to fend off the break at 1-1, and there was a sense the Serbian was biding his time for a chance, making a stand in some gruelling rallies.
At 3-2, Thiem connected with two dig volleys, lunging down to shin-level in a highlight-reel rally to boost a hold. However, the danger signs were there and an error-strewn service game opened the door for the defending champion.
A Djokovic hold to love, and suddenly a fifth set was called.