Possibly, simply possibly, the pondering went, Novak Djokovic could be only a tad extra inclined to hassle this time round on the Australian Open.
In spite of everything, he tore an belly muscle within the third spherical and wasn’t certain he may proceed to compete. Getting into Sunday, Djokovic ceded 5 units within the match, essentially the most he ever dropped en path to a significant ultimate. And to prime all of it off, he was dealing with Daniil Medvedev, proprietor of a 20-match successful streak.
Yeah, proper. We’re speaking about Djokovic at Melbourne Park, the place his dominance is most actually intact — 9 finals, 9 championships. Plus, he is nonetheless gaining on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal within the Grand Slam standings, now as much as 18 general, two shy of the lads’s document these rivals share.
Djokovic used improved serving, alongside together with his traditional relentless returning and baseline excellence to seize 11 of 13 video games in a single stretch and beat Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 for a 3rd consecutive Australian Open trophy.
“Definitely, emotionally, the most challenging Grand Slam that I ever had, with everything that was happening — injury, off-the-court stuff, quarantines,” Djokovic stated. “A roller-coaster ride.”
WATCH | Prime-ranked Djokovic downs Medvedev in straight units:
When the match ended after lower than two hours, Djokovic went to the sideline, lifted his white shirt and peeled items of beige athletic tape from his abdomen.
“I was quite worried,” Djokovic stated concerning the damage. “I did not [think] realistically that I could actually play. I didn’t know until two hours before the fourth-round match.”
Coping with what he known as “bearable” ache, Djokovic improved to a mixed 18-Zero in semifinals and finals on Melbourne’s laborious courts.
“Probably, it’s not your last one,” Medvedev stated. “I have no words to say.”
Djokovic, a 33-year-old from Serbia, has received six of the final 10 majors and can keep at No. 1 within the rankings no less than by means of March 8. That can give him 311 weeks there, breaking one other mark held by Federer.
His objectives now are squarely on Grand Slams, much more than earlier than.
Put Djokovic’s 9 triumphs in Australia alongside 5 at Wimbledon, three on the U.S. Open and one on the French Open. The maths seems to be good for him: He’s a couple of yr youthful than Nadal and 6 half of youthful than Federer.
The No. 4-seeded Medvedev was showing in his second Slam ultimate; he was the runner-up to Nadal on the 2019 U.S. Open.
The 25-year-old from Russia had received 12 in a row in opposition to Prime 10 opponents, however making an attempt to unravel Djokovic in Australia is a novel problem.
“He’s really good [at] reading an opponent’s game,” Medvedev stated, “knowing what you will do next, how to beat you.”
As issues slipped away, Medvedev bounced his white racket off the blue courtroom, then completely destroyed it with a full-on spike. He stored wanting up at his coach with palms up as if to ask, “What can I possibly do here?”
It’s a acquainted sentiment on this stadium: Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem — all Grand Slam champions, all defeated by Djokovic in semifinals or finals in Melbourne.
‘Profitable tourney for organizers’
On a cool, cloudy night, an occasion delayed three weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic closed with an introduced attendance of seven,426 in Rod Laver Area. Spectators have been barred for 5 days earlier within the match due to a COVID-19 lockdown, however they finally have been let again in at 50 per cent capability.
And for him.
Medvedev’s flat, wrap-the-racket-around-his-neck forehand was iffy at first, lacking extensive, lengthy and into the online within the preliminary 10 minutes. Djokovic grabbed 13 of the match’s preliminary 16 factors and a fast 3-Zero lead. Quickly sufficient, although, it was 3-all, then 5-all.
However that is when Djokovic stepped up, and Medvedev stepped again. Djokovic held at love, then broke to assert the set when Medvedev slapped a forehand into the online simply after somebody within the crowd known as out in the course of the level.
Djokovic started the second set with a fault into the online, then shook his left arm and flexed his shoulders. That time ended with him lacking a backhand into the online, and he glared at his visitor field. One other netted backhand gifted Medvedev a break.
Medvedev appeared to have a tiny opening at 4-2 within the third, attending to 15-30 on Djokovic’s serve with a forehand winner and waving to the gang to make noise. As if viewing that as a private affront, Djokovic took the following three factors and the sport, then pointed his proper index finger to his temple and gritted his enamel.
Quickly it was over.
“Coming to Australia, it always brings that extra dose of confidence to me,” Djokovic stated, “because of my record here and because of how I play.”