After all, Roger Federer beat Mark Philippoussis to win his first Slam, Nadal beat Mariano Puerta to open his account and Novak Djokovic was too good for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his first, in Melbourne.
Instead, Thiem, who has played Rafael Nadal in each of the past two Roland-Garros finals, will take on Djokovic in the men’s final in Melbourne on Sunday, a tall order after another gruelling encounter, his 3-6, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 semi-final win over Sascha Zverev of Germany taking three hours, 42 minutes.
“It’s unbelievable. When I reached the Roland Garros final, I played Nadal twice, he had won the tournament 10 times already,” Thiem said.
“Now I’m playing Djokovic, who’s the king of Australia, he’s won seven times, more than anyone. I’m always playing the kings in grand slam finals but I will try my best. To be in the Australian Open finals is unreal. What a start to the season.”
With a day less to recover than Djokovic, who beat an ailing Roger Federer on Thursday evening, Thiem will be at a physical disadvantage, even if historically, the player who has had the extra day off has not always gone on to win the final.
Even if he did not have a day less to recover than Djokovic, beating the Serb to win his first Grand Slam title would still be a tall order. This is the 32-year-old’s favourite court and his most successful Slam, with seven of his 16 Grand Slam titles coming on Rod Laver Arena.
The court surface, which has been slower this year, plays into his hands and having dropped just one set on his way to the final, he will be a big favourite with the bookmakers to make it Grand Slam No 17.
The good thing for Thiem is that he knows he can beat Djokovic, having knocked him out at Roland-Garros twice in the past three years. He also beat him at last year’s ATP Finals, although Djokovic still leads their head to head record 6-4 overall.
Djokovic knows what to expect from Thiem and despite having the extra day, he will not take anything for granted as he tries to win the title for the eighth time.