Novak Djokovic has won his ninth Australian Open title with an impressive defeat of Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, in a breath-taking and assured performance that showcased just why he is the king of Melbourne Park.
The much-touted battle of age against experience never really manifested, and all predictions of a long game stretching out to five sets vanished as the Serbian got into Medvedev’s head and forced error after error from his opponent, wrapping up 7-5 6-2 6-2. Djokovic’s dominance never let up, despite a potentially foreboding start that suggested Medvedev could come out on top if the match went the distance.
Djokovic is now an 18-time Grand Slam champion, two behind his rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, with half of those titles secured at the Australian Open. He has a phenomenal record at the tournament, having won all nine semi-finals and finals that he has reached, with this latest victory being his third consecutive success in Australia.
Medvedev was serving well and showing a little more patience and stamina in some of the longer rallies
The opening set was full of quality, and it was clear that both men were feeling a little tension. Djokovic opened up a 3-0 lead, an impressive opening ace showing that the injury concerns that followed him throughout the tournament had well and truly passed. Medvedev began to make a comeback, bringing the score line to 3-3, and then the duo began exchanging games. Medvedev was serving well and showing a little more patience and stamina in some of the longer rallies, but Djokovic refuses to miss many balls and put forward his usual strong defensive game.
At 5-5, the Serb started pushing ahead, sweeping through the next two games with what looked to be limit effort, and he took the first set. Clearly emboldened, he spent the next 40 minutes punishing his opponent – he had a response to every strike, and errors really started creeping into Medvedev’s game after a strong showing on the first game.
Djokovic broke serve three times, and his momentum really shook the Russian. Medvedev began venting at his team, and he destroyed his racquet on the court after the score line reached 5-2. Really, the moment a protestor started shouting from the audience, briefly pausing the game and leading to the replaying of a point, must have been a moment’s respite in an onslaught by his opponent in which the Russian simply couldn’t find his feet.
Djokovic stormed up to the net and struck an overhead winner
In the third set, Djokovic really capitalised on Medvedev’s double faults, and it was clear the Russian was not finding a way back into the match. On the first championship point, Djokovic stormed up to the net and struck an overhead winner – he clinched the title, and made it look easy.
After the match, Medvedev said: “Never easy to speak when you just lost a Grand Slam final, but I’ll do my best! Congrats to Novak. Nine Slams in Australia is amazing and this won’t be your last one. Just to tell you a small story, I first met Novak when I was 500 or 600 in the world. I thought OK, he’s not going to speak to me, because he was world number one. I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He’s never changed – he’s always been a great sport and a great friend.
“Thanks to my wife and coach. It was not the best day today but thank you for being here with me for such a long time. Last but not least I would like to thank you guys for inviting us here. I really wanted to make this match longer and more entertaining for you, but today was not the day. Thank you for coming and supporting me.”
The champion said: “I would like to return nice words to Daniil. You’re a class act and a great person. We used to spend more time together and practise together. You’ve not called me that much over the last two years. It was nice to see you were thinking good things about me. I really like him as a person off the court. On the court, he’s definitely one of the toughest players I ever faced in my life. It’s a matter of time that you will hold a Grand Slam for sure – if you don’t mind waiting a few more years…”
Talk of the next generation of tennis usurping the Big Three will have to be put on hold a little longer
“It has been a rollercoaster week for me. I am eternally grateful to my team for all their support and energy. I love you guys. There are a lot of mixed feelings about what has happened in the last month or so with tennis players coming to Australia but I think when we draw a line at the end it was a successful tournament. It wasn’t easy but I think they should be proud of themselves for what they have put together and allowed us to come here. Rod Laver Arena, I love you each year more and more. The love affair keeps going. Thank you so much.”
In truth, the final was not an overly interesting match for the viewer – with his opponent essentially collapsing under the pressure, it was fairly easy for Djokovic to storm to victory. Talk of the next generation of tennis usurping the Big Three will have to be put on hold a little longer – the Serbian is on form, and you can imagine what’s going through his mind after this win – how many more can he attain?