After battling through a week of injuries and staging some terrific comebacks, world No.1 Novak Djokovic was crowned the Australian Open champion for the ninth time in his career.
It was a familiar setting for the world No.1, who showed his composure to sweep Daniil Medvedev away in straight sets to win 7-5 6-2 6-2.Embed from Getty Images
“It has been emotionally one of the toughest tournaments I’ve ever had in my life, without a doubt,” the world No.1 said after the match.
“I had to really lock myself in the shell, really avoid any distractions and focus all my action into recovery, into mental preparation.”
“I kind of pleasantly surprised myself with my ability to recover and ability to stay tough when it mattered most. I’ll take a lot of positives from this tournament, but also I’ll also take a break because I need one!”Embed from Getty Images
Medvedev looked to be one of few players who could challenge Djokovic’s hegemony this week, racking up a 20-match winning streak and defeating both Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets to reach the final.
And he started brightly, pushing the world No.1 to go the distance in the opening set, using his belting service to hit 5 Aces and 12 winners past the world No.1.
But the Serbian outlasted his attacks and held on to break Medvedev to win the first set with some powerful returns on Medvedev’s serve.
The Russian responded immediately in the second set, but his momentum was short-lived, with Djokovic again tearing through Medvedev’s service to secure a double break and win the following four games.Embed from Getty Images
Medvedev steadied the ship to serve out to love, but he could do little to claw back a second breakpoint, with the world No.1 now holding his foot firmly on the accelerator, ripping a forehand return back at Medvedev’s serve to claim the second set.
Djokovic pressed again, capitalising on several unforced errors from his opponent to go 3-0 up in the third set.
Gallantly fighting to the end, Medvedev found a glimmer of hope in the seventh game, battling back on Djokovic’s serve to go 15/30 up. But the world No.1 kept his cool and served out the game to secure his 3rd consecutive Australian Open title.
“Undoubtedly, I don’t think anyone can argue that they are the three biggest names in tennis history,” Medvedev said on Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic after the match.
“I’m talking only about results, I’m not talking about off-court. What they did in tennis is unbelievable for me.”
“I’m 25 now, you know, to win nine Australian Open’s, I need to win every year until I’m 34. I believe in myself, but I don’t think I’m able to do it. And same with Rafa, 13 Roland Garros’s! We’re talking about some cyborgs of tennis, in a good way.”
“They’re just unbelievable, and you know, every time I go out there, and when I say this it’s I’m not at all thinking about this saying ‘they’re too strong for me’, I always want to win, and I beat some of them in some big tournaments like London, for example, but I just need to be better in the grand slam finals against these two guys or Roger.”
This will be Djokovic’s 18th grand slam title, putting him two behind Federer and Nadal.
But the win also means Djokovic will again tie down the world No.1 spot, and will surpass Federer’s record for holding the most weeks spent at the top of the ATP Rankings on 8 March.Embed from Getty Images
And for Djokovic, the old guard are still very much at the top of the game.
“It’s not happening yet; people have been talking about it like it’s already happened, but the top spots are still held by Rafa, myself. Daniil is at the forefront of the Next Generation,” he said.
“Rafa, Roger, myself are still trying to give them a hard time, and I think the experience of playing in many major finals maybe helped me tonight to start off the match better, and I came out of the blocks very solid; with a clear game plan.”
After a rollercoaster of a fortnight both on and off the court, the Serbian also praised Australian Open tournament organisers for the hard work they have done to host the event in a safe manner.
“It wasn’t easy, it was very challenging on many different levels, but you know, I think they [Tennis Australia] should be proud of themselves for what they have put together and allowed us to come to Australia and be standing here – thank you very much for making this possible.”
Image: @Djokernole via Twitter