Djokovic trailed by two sets to one and looked in physical difficulties but he withstood pressure early in the fourth set and hit back to win 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4, denying Thiem a first grand slam title.
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Gordon Reid's bid to win a first grand slam singles title in men's wheelchair since 2016 ended with a 6-4 6-4 defeat by Japanese top seed Shingo Kunieda. It has nevertheless been a strong tournament for the Scot, who also won the doubles title with Alfie Hewett.
Salisbury has been supported throughout his victorious Melbourne campaign by mum Carolyn. And grand slam champions, it turns out, still quite like their mums to do their washing for them. "I wouldn't say I've been making her," said a rather sheepish Salisbury. "She has volunteered a few times. I didn't turn it down."
Roll of honour
2020 Australian Open champions
Men's singles: Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
Women's singles: Sofia Kenin (USA)
Men's doubles: Joe Salisbury (Great Britain) and Rajeev Ram (USA)
Women's doubles: Kristina Mladenovic (France) and Timea Babos (Hungary)
Mixed doubles: Barbora Krejcikova (Czech Republic) and Nikola Mektic (Croatia)
Boys' singles: Harold Mayot (France)
Girls' singles: Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (Andorra)
Boys' doubles: Nicholas David Ionel (Romania) and Leandro Riedi (Switzerland)
Girls' doubles: Alexandra Eala (Philippines) and Priska Madelyn Nugroho (Indonesia)
Wheelchair men's singles: Shingo Kunieda (Japan)
Wheelchair women's singles: Yui Kamiji (Japan)
Wheelchair men's doubles: Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett (Great Britain)
Wheelchair women's doubles: Yui Kamiji (Japan) and Jordanne Whiley (Great Britain)
Wheelchair quad singles: Dylan Alcott (Australia)
Wheelchair quad doubles: Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson (Australia)