Former World No. 1 Boris Becker reckons Dominic Thiem will have to overcome two big challenges in order to capture his maiden Grand Slam title.

Thiem, who beat Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 [3], 7-6 [4] in the semifinal, goes up against 16-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open 2020 on Sunday, and Becker feels the World No. 5 will not only have to face the stiff challenge posed by the Serbian but also must find a way to demonstrate better stamina.

“The final is a wonderful opportunity for Dominic Thiem to announce himself to the tennis world with a grand slam win. However, he has two hurdles to cross. The first is the formidable opponent he has to overcome. Novak Djokovic is looking for a record eighth title and is yet to drop a set. His groundstrokes are as powerful as ever and he is looking frighteningly fit,” Becker wrote in his column for Times of India on Sunday.

“The other hurdle is the question of his own stamina. He has played two back-to-back matches that have been long and intense, and would have taken a lot out of him. True, Thiem is young and has a day to recover, but whether it is enough remains to be seen.”

Thiem has been wonderful with his groundstrokes in the Australian open, which has seen him slay Rafael Nadal and Zverev in back-to-back matches. Becker reflected upon the gruelling semifinal clash between the two players, and is impressed with the transformation Thiem has undergone after an underwhelming start to his career.

“A word about the semifinals. The Thiem-Alexander Zverev match-up was a vignette of what we will see in the coming years,” Becker said.

“Sascha, as I know him, played the worst tennis I have ever during his prep for the ATP finals. I had a quiet word with his father and was truly worried by what I had seen. To see him so magnificently transformed during the Australian Open proves he has worked hard and been focussed. Hopefully we will take the form forward. Zverev lost key games against Thiem and if he had not, he would have won the match.”

If one of the semifinals highlighted the up and coming stars of tennis, the other was a battle between the old war horses – Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam winner went down to his Serbian rival and although Becker was impressed with the 38-year-old’s effort, he picks Djokovic to be his favourite in the summit clash.

“As for Roger Federer, get this: he has played 1512 matches in his career and never retired hurt. Kudos to him for coming out and playing even though he was far from fit. Even Djokovic seemed surprised to see how well Federer played at the start,” said Becker.

“The stage is set for the final and I expect a great tussle if Thiem has enough gas in the tank. However, at this point I would say that Djokovic is the favourite to win.”