Dominic Thiem claimed the first Grand Slam of his career with a victory over Alexander Zverev in the US Open final. A path was opened to the Austrian to get over the hump after Novak Djokovic's disqualification from the competition along with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's respective withdrawals.
Thiem ensured that he snapped up the opportunity, holding his composure to defeat Daniil Medvedev in the last four before overcoming Zverev in the final.
The stage is now set for the 27-year-old to make a statement in the opening Grand Slam of 2021. Thiem is backed in the latest tennis betting odds at 11/2 to win the competition, which is behind Djokovic and Nadal in the minds of the bookmakers. He will likely have to overcome the fearsome duo in a major competition for the first time, but his triumph at Flushing Meadows could provide the confidence to beat out the Serb and the Spaniard for his second crown.
Thiem has enjoyed success against Djokovic of late, although in their meeting in the 2020 Australian Open final the world number one displayed his brilliance with a comeback victory. The Serb was down two sets to one, which put Thiem on the brink of his first Grand Slam. However, Djokovic upped the ante and produced his best tennis when it mattered the most to close out a five-set win.
Elsewhere it has not been the same story. In total the two players have met on 12 occasions, and Djokovic asserted his dominance by winning the opening five contests. Since then, Thiem has fought back to win five out of the last seven, including victories at the French Open, knocking out the Serb in the quarter-finals in 2017 and the semi-final stage in 2019.
Thiem does have it in his locker to overcome the might of Djokovic but stopping his imperious run at the Australian Open will be a challenge. The 33-year-old has won the event eight times, including back-to-back triumphs in 2019 and 2020. He holds an incredible record in Melbourne, winning 75 of his 83 games. Djokovic will not give up his crown easily as he continues to bid to become the most successful player in Grand Slam history.|
A clash against Nadal would be equally as daunting as Thiem has discovered at the French Open. The Spaniard defeated him twice in the final in 2018 and 2019 at Roland Garros. However, Thiem proved to have the measure of the left-hander on hard courts, winning their last two bouts in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and at the ATP Tour Finals in their round-robin match.
The 27-year-old should have no fear over meeting the Spaniard in Melbourne but will still have to produce an outstanding performance should they collide in the latter stages of the competition.
Thiem made a breakthrough at Flushing Meadows and now has the opportunity to press home his surge to the top of the men's game. Djokovic and Nadal will loom large in Melbourne, but he should have confidence given his solid records against the top two players in the world.