The Australian Open is Novak Djokovic’s fortress, the Serb is already an eight-time champion down under and in the final on Sunday, the World No.1 is eyeing to claim his 9th title at the Melbourne Park and 18th Major title overall. But, in his way, is the ruthless Russian, Daniil Medvedev, who is now on a 20-match winning streak after he blew away Rafael Nadal’s conqueror Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in their second semifinal on Friday.
In spite of his abdominal injury that he seemed to have picked up during his third-round contest against Taylor Fritz, the Serb’s body seems to be holding up well and he has improved as the tournament has worn on. He also highlighted in his post-match presentation that he did not feel any pain or any discomfort in his comfortable 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 straight-sets win over the Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev in their first semifinal on Thursday.
Since he stepped on the courts at Bercy Paris Masters last November, the 25-year-old Russian has been unstoppable ever since. Interestingly, such has been his domination that out of his twenty consecutive victories so far, eleven of them have come against the Top 10 players and this makes the Sunday’s final an altogether blockbuster affair as the wizard of the Australian Open takes on a man who seems to be on a mission, Medvedev.
Djokovic himself is still unbeaten in 2021 as he won both of his singles’ ATP Cup ties in the tournament that preceded the opening Slam of the year. Djokovic and Medvedev have been the best players on the current form and rightfully will lock horns at the iconic Rod Laver Arena. Considering the heaps of momentum that both men will carry in the final, it boils down to who would crumble first in their upcoming final?
Head to Head Record:
As far as their head-to-head record is concerned, Djokovic marginally leads Medvedev 4-3, but has ended on the losing side on the three out of their last four meetings on the ATP tour. Also, it was the Russian who dominated Djokovic 6-3, 6-3 in their most recent meeting at the Nitto ATP finals in November last year. However, in their only meeting at any Grand Slam tournament, it was Djokovic who got better off Medvedev when the duo met in the 4th Round at the Australian Open, back in 2019. In spite of his win over Medvedev at the Australian Open in 2019, the Russian was the only one to take a set off Djokovic in the entire tournament that year.
25-year-old Medvedev might not be as flashy as Djokovic, but Medvedev possesses all the attributes that Djokovic had when he was 25 and if there is anyone on the tour whose style of play resembles that of Djokovic’s, it has to be Medvedev.
In the upcoming final, Djokovic would be wary of Medvedev’s water-tight defense, incredible court coverage and relentless ability to return the ball at startling angles and combination of all these factors can certainly offset Djokovic’s momentum.
Djokovic has never lost in a final at the Australian Open and is arguably the greatest when it comes down to handling of nerves and now is just one win away from winning his 3rd consecutive Australian Open for second time in his career after he previously won three years in a row from 2011-2013.
With both the players heavily banking on their defense and predominantly being baseliners, one can expect the duo to engage in long baseline rallies and the upcoming Djokovic-Medvedev clash has all the ingredients to go the distance yet again after Dominic Thiem and Djokovic played a scintillating five-setter at the Melbourne Park last year.
Melbourne Park is Djokovic’s safehouse and yet again starts as a favourite to lift his 9th title, but Medvedev, who is in red-hot form, can be the Serb’s most strenuous challenge in recent times and it would be intriguing and tantalizing to witness how the final chapter of the 2021 Australian Open unfolds in the upcoming men’s final on a blockbuster Sunday!