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Thiem powers up for daunting Djokovic clash

 

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Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates after his match against Germany's Alexander Zverev. Photo: Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates after his match against Germany's Alexander Zverev. Photo: Hannah Mckay/Reuters

REUTERS

Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates after his match against Germany's Alexander Zverev. Photo: Hannah Mckay/Reuters

A clash between two German speakers on Rod Laver Arena threw up a real blitzkrieg of tennis, with both men firing thunderbolts in all directions.

Eventually, Austria's Dominic Thiem overcame Germany's Alexander Zverev in four sets, thus proving himself to be both the biggest hitter in modern tennis and the closest challenger to the "Big Three".

Even so, Thiem still finds himself in a position analogous to the silent-movie star tied to the railway tracks, waiting for the train called Novak Djokovic to come along.

You could tell from Thiem's cautious post-match interview that he knows how far he still stands from the honey pot. "I'll try [to win the title]," he told John McEnroe, "but I was twice in Roland Garros finals facing Rafa [Nadal] and now I am facing Novak here.

Kings "He is the king of Australia so I am always facing the kings of the grand slam in the final. I will try my best, and if I walk off the court in two days [without the trophy] I still have to be patient."

The extraordinary consistency of today's top players means that, unlike in the old days, you hardly ever get to face a Cedric Pioline, or a Mali Washington, to name just two of the less distinguished Wimbledon finalists of the late 20th Century.

In Thiem's case, he has already overcome Nadal in Wednesday's quarter-final. So, to lift the title, he will have to perform a feat that only Stan Wawrinka has achieved: beating both Nadal and Djokovic in the same major.

"We are playing in tough times, we young players," added Thiem, 26. "We always have to beat all these unbelievable legends." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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