Novak Djokovic against Daniil Medvedev is the name of the final in Melbourne. Old masters against challengers. 33 years against 25. So the Serb unpacks the pithy words.
When Dominic Thiem triumphed at the US Open in 2020, he succeeded in breaking free at Grand Slam level. But his success should not be taken as a sign of the changing of the guard in men’s tennis. Because Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were absent in New York, Novak Djokovic was disqualified. Shortly afterwards, Nadal showed the young challengers in Paris who is the boss on the Roland Garros clay courts.
In the last 15 years only Andy Murray (3 times), Stan Wawrinka (3), Juan Martín del Potro (1) and Marin Cilic (1) have succeeded in breaking through the phalanx of the three living legends at the highest level, and the four named are all over 32 years of age and are currently not a factor. It is uncertain whether Federer will make it to the top again. But Nadal and Djokovic are still there, and the Serb made it clear in Melbourne that he is not willing to be pushed aside.
“I will not just hand over the scepter to them; I’ll make sure they have to work their asses off. “
In an interview for the English-language Eurosport channel, the world number one said there was a lot of talk about “the new generation trumps the three of us and takes over the helm, but realistically that doesn’t happen yet. With all due respect for the others, they still have a lot of work to do. ” And then the winner of 17 Grand Slam titles went one better: “I won’t just pass the scepter on to them; I’ll make sure they have to work their asses off. “
On Sunday Djokovic has the opportunity to turn his pithy words into deeds. And his ninth success at the Australian Open would be a very strong signal. Because the number 1 has to deal with the strongest possible opponent: Daniil Medvedev. The Russian is therefore not only playing for himself, but for a whole group of highly talented players. If the 25-year-old were to dethrone the eight-time Melbourne champion, this would also strengthen the belief of various professional colleagues that it is possible to replace the big three.
12 wins against top 10 players in a row
“If anyone can manage it, it will be Medvedev in this form,” said Heinz Günthardt on Swiss television during the second semi-final. Indeed, the lanky right-hander showed a strong performance against Nadal defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas. Until 3-1 in the third set, he dominated the action against the Greeks with strong serves and surgical precision from the baseline. But then he didn’t realize the second breakthrough in service, whereupon Tsitsipas, whipped up by the audience, turned up out of nowhere. Suddenly Medvedev was 3: 4 behind and had a break ball against him.
How he reacted to this delicate situation was almost more impressive than the quality of his game: ace, ace, service point – the score was 4: 4. Shortly afterwards he managed the decisive break at 5: 5 with a backhand passing ball from far outside the field. It was probably the most spectacular blow in the whole match and at the same time an exclamation point. Shortly afterwards Tsitsipas was beaten 4: 6, 2: 6, 5: 7.
«It’s a shame, Roger isn’t playing at the moment. I would have liked to face him. “
The self-confidence of the Moscow resident in Monaco is no accident. Since the beginning of November he has won in Paris-Bercy, at the ATP final in London and with Russia at the ATP Cup in Melbourne and has now lined up 20 victories. And even more impressive: 12 of these victories came against opponents from the top 10.
With the exception of Federer, who was on hold, Medvedev defeated everyone in this elite circle at least once during this phase. When asked about it, he replied: “Good to know. It’s a shame, Roger isn’t playing at the moment. I would have liked to face him. ” Immediately he made it humbly clear that he did not mean by this statement that he had hit Federer anyway. “Playing against him is always a privilege – as against Novak and Rafa.”
Nobody wants to be a favorite
Whether it is really a privilege or not will be shown on Sunday in the Rod Laver Arena. In the duel between the two baseline specialists, many high-class, exhausting rallies are to be expected. Both push off the role of favorites. «Djokovic has all the pressure because he has to catch up with Roger and Rafa in the Grand Slam titles. He has more experience, but also more to lose, ”said the Russian in the interview. Meanwhile, the defending champion stated in his press conference: “Medvedev is the man to be beaten. He’s currently on a run. “
Tsitsipas, Zverev, Rublew and whatever their name is, will certainly be watching closely on Sunday whether Medvedev Djokovic is able to overthrow. It would be a real sign of the upcoming changing of the guard.