Novak Djokovic rode out a crisis to win his eighth Australian Open title after being given an almighty scare by Dominic Thiem.
Struggling to keep his emotions in check and with undulating moods and energy levels, the 32-year-old Serb used all his experience to deny the Austrian a first Major title and move his own overall tally up to 17.
He becomes only the second man in history after Ken Rosewall to win a Grand Slam trophy across three decades after edging through 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in just shy of four hours. His celebrations were relatively muted at the end even though he had been given a harder test than expected.
Thiem kept fighting to the end and won himself many friends with this performance, certainly more than Djokovic, but perhaps the closest the Austrian got was a break point at 1-1 in the fourth set. He was vainly playing catch up in the fifth.
He has established himself as a real danger to the three players who have dominated the men’s game but it still waits for its first new singles champion since 2014.
Djokovic made an electrifying start that saw him race to a 4-1 lead, although an indicator that this was not going to be easy came when the Austrian pulled him back for 4-4.
However, Thiem was to surrender the opener in limp fashion through a double fault.