Australian Open 2020: Is an extra day's rest really an advantage? – A look ahead of Djokovic v Thiem

By Sports Desk February 01, 2020

Novak Djokovic will take what is considered a major advantage into his Australian Open final against Dominic Thiem – an extra day's rest.

The 16-time grand slam champion brushed aside Roger Federer in straight sets on Thursday, a day before Thiem edged out Alexander Zverev in four.

At 32, Djokovic is six years older than Thiem, a player he holds a 6-4 win-loss record over but has lost to in four of their past five meetings.

But an extra day off has seemingly had little impact on the result of Sunday's final, especially in the past decade, when the player with more rest has won five and lost as many deciders.

"I have two days of no match right now, which actually is really good," Serbia's Djokovic said after his win over a hurting Federer.

"It gives me more time to recuperate and gather all the necessary energy for the finals."

Thiem, unsurprisingly, saw the benefits of not having the extra day despite coming off two tough wins over world number one Rafael Nadal and Zverev.

"There are disadvantages but also advantages. I think it's also a little bit of a challenge to have all the time one day off and all of a sudden two," he said.

"Of course, I have less time to regenerate, but with all the adrenaline and everything, it's going to be fine.

"I played two super intense matches against Rafa and now against Sascha [Zverev]. Of course, I'm going to feel it, especially [on Saturday]. But I'm going to have great treatment, easy hit [on Saturday], and then of course try everything to be 100 per cent on Sunday night."

Since 2010, the men with extra rest have won five and lost five finals. Djokovic has won his three, but he has also won all seven of his deciders in Melbourne.

Going further back and the win-loss record for men who played their semi-final a day earlier since 2000 is 11-9, barely an advantage.

Thiem has spent almost six hours longer on court than Djokovic, but in the prime of his career and eyeing a maiden grand slam title, having a day's less rest should seemingly have little impact.

Entering Australian Open final with an extra day's rest since 2000
2019: Rafael Nadal (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2018: Marin Cilic (lost against Roger Federer)
2017: Roger Federer (won against Rafael Nadal)
2016: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2015: Andy Murray (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2014: Stan Wawrinka (won against Rafael Nadal)
2013: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2012: Rafael Nadal (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2011: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2010: Andy Murray (lost against Roger Federer)
2009: Roger Federer (lost against Rafael Nadal)
2008: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2007: Roger Federer (won against Fernando Gonzalez)
2006: Marcos Baghdatis (lost against Roger Federer)
2005: Marat Safin (won against Lleyton Hewitt)
2004: Marat Safin (lost against Roger Federer)
2003: Andre Agassi (won against Rainer Schuttler)
2002: Thomas Johansson (won against Marat Safin)
2001: Andre Agassi (won against Arnaud Clement)
2000: Andre Agassi (won against Yevgeny Kafelnikov)
Wins: 11 Losses: 9

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    The abiding image of Maradona for most likely stems from the 1986 World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and England.

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    But that act of what can at best be considered deceit did not take away from the majesty of his ultimately decisive second goal, dubbed the Goal of the Century, with the balletic grace with which he weaved past the helpless England defenders before rounding Shilton and slotting home the defining memory of Maradona for his adoring fans in his home country and scores of fans around the world.

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    Raised in a poor family in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Maradona's blessings were evident from an early age. At just eight years old, his promise was discovered by a scout, Francisco Cornejo, and he was signed to the youth team of Argentinos Juniors.

    "He did things that I have never seen anyone else do," Cornejo, who died in 2008, later said of Maradona.

    Maradona made his Argentinos debut 10 days before turning 16 and marked it in fitting fashion by nutmegging an opponent within minutes of entering the pitch.

    One hundred and sixteen goals in 166 games for Argentinos followed and resulted in Maradona receiving a dream move to Boca Juniors, though his spell at La Bombonera yielded only one league title and was marked by a difficult relationship with coach Silvio Marzolini before he moved to Barcelona in a world-record transfer in 1982.

    Barca did not see Maradona at his best at the 1982 World Cup in Spain that preceded his debut for the Blaugrana, yet the impact he had on his cohorts at Camp Nou was stark.

    "He had complete mastery of the ball," former team-mate Lobo Carrasco remarked. "When Maradona ran with the ball or dribbled through the defence, he seemed to have the ball tied to his boots."

    His time in Catalonia delivered both brilliance and tumult in equal measure. Maradona became the first Barca player to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabeu in 1983, but sustained a career-threatening ankle injury against Athletic Bilbao and was then involved in a brawl against the same opposition in the 1984 Copa del Rey final that hastened his exit from the club.

    It was perhaps no surprise that the pinnacle of his international career coincided with that of his club career at Napoli, for whom Maradona will forever be an icon.

    After being named player of the tournament at the '86 World Cup, Maradona inspired Napoli to their first Serie A title and triumph in the Coppa Italia. UEFA Cup glory followed in 1989 prior to a second league title a year later.

    Napoli's Stadio San Paolo was the scene of glory for Argentina in a World Cup semi-final win over Italy, in which Maradona scored the ultimately decisive penalty in the shoot-out, though he could not ensure a successful title defence as West Germany prevailed in the final.

    Italian football saw the best of Maradona, whom Franco Baresi described as his toughest opponent - "when he was on form, there was almost no way of stopping him," the Milan legend said.

    Yet it also saw significant off-field struggles and he left Napoli after serving a 15-month ban for failing a drug test for cocaine, battling his addiction to the drug and alcohol until 2004.

    He returned to Argentina by signing for Newell's Old Boys after a turbulent spell with Sevilla, with his international career ended in the wake of a positive test for ephedrine doping during the 1994 World Cup that resulted in him being sent home from the United States.

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    His post-playing career also saw a string of brief coaching tenures, which included him leading Argentina to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup, where they were thumped 4-0 by Germany. Maradona made sure his departure was fittingly acrimonious, levelling accusations of betrayal at the national team's hierarchy.

    Maradona had seemingly found some stability in his coaching career at Gimnasia y Esgrima de la Plata when he was admitted to hospital this month having recently renewed his contract through the 2020-21 season.

    "We live an unforgettable story," Gimnasia posted in a tribute on Twitter.

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    As Messi wrote of Maradona on Instagram: "He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal."

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    Diego Maradona's remarkable all-round World Cup record is one which may never be matched.

    The Argentina legend died at the age of 60 on Wednesday, prompting tributes from across the football world.

    Reflections of his career will see so many of Maradona's magical moments highlighted, though perhaps most memorable are his 1986 exploits in Mexico, a tournament which gave Argentina their most recent World Cup success.

    Opta statistics help to illustrate Maradona's remarkable performances on football’s biggest stage and highlight how difficult his legacy at the tournament will be for a modern player to match. 

    Maradona appeared in four successive World Cups for Argentina between the ages of 21 and 33, playing his first in 1982 before going on to represent his country in 1986, 1990 and 1994.

    He ended his Argentina career having made 91 appearances and it was clear he thrived on the big stage - nearly one in four of those caps occurred during World Cups, where he enjoyed a win record in excess of 50 per cent.

    He holds the record for the most number of appearances in the competition by an Argentine player (21), just ahead of Javier Mascherano (20) and Lionel Messi (19).

    Maradona is one of just three players to captain his country in two different men's World Cup finals, having done so in 1990 as well as the 1986 tournament, where he stole the show.

    The only other two players to achieve the feat are Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (1982 and 1986) and Dunga, who did so in successive tournaments after Maradona in 1994 and 1998.

    The exploits of Maradona in 1986 will be hard to top. He had 10 goal involvements (five goals and five assists) in seven games and no player has done that since at a single edition of a World Cup.

    No other player at the tournament in Mexico managed more than six goal involvements, highlighting his level of superiority.

    Only Gabriel Batistuta (10) has scored more World Cup goals for Argentina than Maradona, who ended his international career with a total of eight.

    Maradona is also one of only three Argentina players to have scored in three separate World Cups (1982, 1986 and 1994), alongside Messi (2006, 2014 and 2018) and Batistuta (1994, 1998, and 2002).

    As well as eight goals, Maradona had eight assists in his 21 appearances over the four tournaments he played in. Across all World Cups staged since 1966, no other player has accumulated as many.

    Maradona won 152 free kicks across his four World Cups, the most in tournament history.

    That is more than twice as many fouls won by any other player, with Brazil's Jairzinho ranking second with 64.

    On average he won more than seven fouls per game in his World Cup career, or one every 12 minutes and 46 seconds. 

    He was the most fouled player across three consecutive competitions from 1982 to 1990, with this total from 1986 (54) remaining the highest single figure from one World Cup. 

    Amazingly, his individual totals from 1990 (50) and 1982 (36 from just five games) also rank individually as second and third all time.

    As well as being the most fouled player, Maradona has also provoked more cards than any other player at World Cups since yellow and red cards were first introduced in 1970. 

    Fouls on him resulted in 12 cards being dished out, ahead of Arjen Robben (11) for the most in tournament history.

    Though as well as forcing his opponents to pick up bookings, Maradona was also prone to being cautioned himself – he is the only player to be booked in two separate World Cup finals (1986 and 1990).

    In the 1986 tournament, he played a part in an astonishing 56 per cent of his team's 101 shots. He had 30 of them himself, and played the final pass on 27 other occasions.

    The only game where he failed to score or assist at least one goal was in the round of 16 match against Uruguay, but even then he still managed to hit the woodwork from a stunning direct free-kick.

    He led the assist rankings with five at Mexico 86 and with five goals he was the second highest scorer behind Gary Lineker, who netted six.

    Maradona remains the only player since 1966 to have to have scored and assisted as many as five goals in a single World Cup, a record that looks particularly tough to beat.

    Famed for his dribbling prowess, no player has beaten an opponent more times in a single World Cup than Maradona did in 1986. 

    The attacker successfully took the ball around an opponent 53 times, averaging eight per game. Four came in just one single move, the goal of the century against England in the quarter-finals.

    He travelled 51 metres with the ball in 10 seconds to net one of only four World Cup goals since 1966 where a player travelled as far before scoring.

    Jarizinho had 47 successful take-ons in 1970, while the closest anyone has come to breaking that Maradona record since his retirement was when Messi had 46 in 2014 and Eden Hazard 40 in 2018.

    The stats from that match with England sum up Maradona's overall impact in Mexico. He attempted the most shots of any player on the pitch (seven), the most shots on target (three), most chances created (five) and most completed dribbles (12), as well as winning seven fouls. 

    Until 2018, Maradona also held the record for the most dribbles (105) in World Cup matches, a number was fittingly eclipsed by his compatriot Messi (110).

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