Melbourne, Australia (CNN)Agitated and ailing, Novak Djokovic nonetheless won an eighth Australian Open title to beat his fellow Big Three members to the punch in one respect.
Chasing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most of his career, Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to win a grand slam title in three decades by downing big-hitter Dominic Thiem 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 in an unforgettable three-hour, 59-minute final.
He has never lost a finale in Melbourne and has now tallied a 17th major overall to pull closer to Federer and Nadal.
"Obviously at this stage of my career, grand slams are the ones I value the most," said Djokovic. "They are the ones I prioritize. Before the season starts I try to set my form, shape for these events where I can be at my prime tennis, mental and physical abilities."
The elder pair will get their chances to equal the Serb's three-decade accomplishment in 2020 but at the year's first grand slam, he is unquestionably in a class of his own.
Apart from the impressive numbers, the final might be remembered, too, for Djokovic clashing with senior chair umpire Damien Dumusois as he served at 4-4 in the second set.
Given a time violation warning by Dumusois -- Djokovic has long taken his time ahead of serves like Nadal -- the Frenchman issued him another warning in the same game when he exceeded the 25-second limit.
That meant he was docked a first serve. The same thing happened to Nadal in last year's US Open final, albeit with a different umpire.
Djokovic then tapped Dumusois on the shoe as he made his way to his chair.
Once seated, he told Dumusois: "Great job, man. You made yourself famous, well done."
Dumusois was lenient in not penalizing Djokovic further for making contact with him, ensuring things didn't escalate.
The last time Djokovic and Thiem met at a grand slam, the 32-year-old also lost his cool when given a time violation in the 2019 French Open semifinals.
"I thought that the second violation was not necessary," said Djokovic. "The first one, fine, no problem. The second one, it's just not necessary under the circumstances for a experienced chair umpire. I thought probably he could have reacted a little bit better in that situation."
Whether he was rocked by Sunday's incident or feeling something physically -- factoring in, too, Thiem's improved play -- Djokovic waned on a nippy Melbourne evening and it felt like an upset was on the cards.
But Thiem, now 0-3 in grand slam finals, didn't have any regrets.
"Of course, there were some small mistakes here and there, but they're happening," he said. "At the end it was a super close five-setter."
Down 4-1 in the third, the trainer visited Djokovic. He later told reporters he felt dizzy and lost his energy.
He left the court with the doctor at the end of the set and once he returned, seemed completely re-energized. He additionally mostly put away the drop shot, which fluctuated in its success rate.
Fifth-ranked Thiem cracked at 3-4 to help Djokovic nab the fourth set and a considerable statistical edge. While Djokovic held a 30-10 record in fifth sets, Thiem was a mediocre 8-6.
The trend ultimately continued, Thiem erring to crucially concede serve at 1-2.
It was far from over, though, since Thiem manufactured two break points immediately.
And he had chances on both, erring on a forehand into the net with Djokovic in trouble and missing a backhand pass long down the line. The latter was more difficult but g