Austrian underdog Dominic Thiem is being urged to throw caution to the wind when he takes on hot favourite Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final.
Australian grand slam champions John Newcombe and Pat Rafter are both of the opinion that Djokovic will most likely claim an unprecedented eighth Australian Open crown on Sunday.
But they agree that on his best day, the world No.5 has shown he has the ability to pull off an upset.
“He’s just got to back himself,” Newcombe said.
Thiem’s Press Conference
“He’s got to go for his shots, within reason, like he did on two set points (against Alexander Zverev) when he hit two winners.
“He just looked so confident that he was going to make them and he did.
“So really he’s just got to back himself and see what happens.
“If he plays passively he’s out of there.”
Thiem will contest the third grand slam final of his career after being beaten by Rafael Nadal in the French Open final in 2018 and 2019.
Djokovic enjoys a 6-4 head-to-head advantage against the 26-year-old.
However, Thiem has beaten the world No.2 in four of their past five encounters, with his last victory coming in November’s season-ending ATP Finals in London.
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But the Serbian superstar is a different proposition on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open – his favourite court and pet event.
“Thiem needs to red line it and he knows that,” Rafter said.
“He’s going to be really tired after his last two matches, they’ve been pretty brutal, but he’s going to have to really go for the lines to put pressure on Novak.
“But I think Novak will respond to whatever Thiem throws at him.
“Whatever he does, Novak is going to go with him, that’s why he’s the best player here.”