Daniil Medvedev was supposed to be a true test, a true threat to Novak Djokovic’s domination Down Under at the Australian Open. That didn’t happen.
Djokovic masters Medvedev with ease rolling the Russian 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 to win his 9th Australian Open title and 18th Slam. And he did it in under two hours.
“I would like to thank this court, I would like to thank Rod Laver Arena, I love you each year more and more, the love affair keeps going,” Djokovic said on court.
“I think it was a very successful tournament and I’d like to praise Craig Tiley for a tremendous effort,” he added. “It was challenging on many different levels and Tennis Australia should be very proud for making it possible.”
Medvedev entered the final having won 20 straight matches including 12 straight against Top 10 players. He had also beaten Djokovic in three of their last four meetings. And he was fresh and hungry while Djokovic had never expended so much energy en route to a final, although he was still a perfect 8-0 in the final and 17-0 in Melbourne when he made the semifinals.
However, the match was all Djokovic’s. The Serb got out quick winning 13 of the first 16 points of the match for a 3-0 lead. Medvedev got the break back and began to find his legs after a nervous start, and push the world No. 1.
The rallies, which favored Djokovic early, were no going more the Russian’s way.
But Medvedev got broken at 5-6 to drop the set, his first opening set loss of the event.
Medvedev brushed it off and immediately broke to start the second. We had a match! Or so we thought.
Djokovic, though, wouldn’t oblige and battled to break right back. So much for a momentum shift.
Djokovic was off in his ace count, but he was effective on serve and was crushing Medvedev’s second serve.
Medvedev would get broken again and the second set was a runaway.
Hoping for a reprise of his 2019 US Open comeback against Nadal, Medvedev smashed his racquet, began barking, trying to draw energy. The frustration of a poor performance on such a big stage was getting to him.
After failing to convert a 15-40 break chance in Djokovic opening service game of the third, he was broken to go down 2-0 and the outcome was all but decided.
“Never easy to speak when you just lost a final of a Grand Slam,” said Medvedev. “But I’ll try to do my best, better than on court I hope.
“Congrats to Novak and your team. Nine Grand Slams in Australia. 18 in total is amazing and probably not your last one. I have no words to say.”
Djokovic is now again within two of Nadal and also of Roger Federer who is expected back next month.
Meanwhile, Medvedev falls to 0-2 in Slam finals, losing to greats Nadal and Djokovic. And today, he won just 32% of his second serves. Beating the big guys in best-of-3 is one thing, it’s another to do it in a best-of-5 in a Slam final. No one born in the 90s has done that yet.
“He’s definitely one of the toughest players I’ve faced in my life,” Djokovic said of Medvedev. “It’s only a matter of time before he wins a Grand Slam, but if you would like to wait a couple of years.”
With the way Djokovic played Sunday night, Medvedev and his fellow NextGenners might not have a choice.
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