TETCHY Novak Djokovic appeared to tell noisy fans to shut the f*** up as he secured an eighth Australian Open title after an epic battle with Dominic Thiem.
And the Serbian was lucky to avoid a hefty fine for touching the umpires left FOOT after another temper tantrum on the Rod Laver Arena.
The 32-year-old maintained his status as the King of Melbourne and reclaimed the world No1 ranking with a hard-fought 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory.
Yet he lost his cool several times in this epic four-hour five-setter with the obstinate Austrian, particularly with some loud punters and the officials.
On a chilly night, it was a mainly pro-Djokovic crowd, with several fans singing his name and a pocket of Serbian fans cheering for their hero from the upper tiers.
However, in the ninth game of the first set the foul-mouthed No2 seed expressed his frustrations with some excitable punters who were breaching protocol and making noises during the intense rallies.
For Thiem to stand any chance of a massive upset, it was imperative that he served well and consistently, just like he did against Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals.
Yet he struggled in the very first game, gifting Djokovic the break at the first opportunity. Perhaps only nerves could explain that malfunction.
Inexplicably, he also handed the first set to the defending champion with a DOUBLE FAULT.
The double faults were clearly contagious because Djokovic was soon making the errors himself, handing an early break to Thiem with a second-serve error.
The turning point in the second set came in the ninth game when Djokovic was handed TWO time violations for exceeding the 25-second shot clock.
As he lost that game, he walked back to his chair, touched the shoe of umpire Damien Dumusois and sarcastically moaned: “Great job, man. Youve made yourself famous, well done.”
This was another example of petulance from the Big Three Roger Federer and Nadal had also criticised the umpire for simply doing their jobs and applying the rules of the sport.
According to the Grand Slam rulebook, touching the umpire could potentially constitute physical abuse and that result in a maximum 15,000 fine.
A defiant, aggressive, on-the-front-foot Thiem took the set, the first Djokovic had lost in this tournament since the opening round.
Undoubtedly, Djokovic was rattled now and it is to Thiems credit he took advantage of that negative emotion in the third set by racing into a 4-0 lead with two breaks and then 5-1.
When Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net, Thiem was just one set away from achieving history.
Against the man from the Alps, Djokovic had a mountain to climb and even consulted the doctor for an unspecified problem.
But a sloppy serve game from Thiem essentially gifted the fourth set to his opponent.
In the fifth set, Djokovics greater experience and guile on his favoured court proved the difference and he claimed a 17th major crown.
For Thiem, this was a third defeat in a row in major final. The 26-year-old is the first player on the ATP circuit to lose his first three finals since Andy Murray.
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