Top favorite Novak Djokovic against the hottest challenger Daniil Medvedev – the final at the Australian Open is more open than some think.
Will Daniil Medvedev keep his resolution if he wins his first Grand Slam title in Melbourne on Sunday? The 25-year-old Russian has a very special way of celebrating his victories. Not at all. In many other ways he is completely different from his final opponent Novak Djokovic.
While the Serb often tries a little exaggerated to be loved by the audience (and perhaps that is precisely why he usually fails), Medvedev does not seem to care a bit about his image. At the US Open 2019, when he first stepped into the spotlight of a wider public, he really enjoyed playing the “bad boy” and messing with the fans.
He later apologized for overdoing it, but he drew a lot of energy from the hostile New York audience. And surprisingly, the longer it developed, the more a certain admiration for this weird guy who doesn’t care what people think of him.
This includes that Medvedev has stopped celebrating great victories exuberantly. With practically no emotion, he took note of his greatest triumph to date when he won the ATP Finals in London last November. This stoic demeanor should not be confused with indifference. During the conversation, the Russian, who lives in Monaco, is an extremely friendly and intelligent person to talk to.
His explanation for his new (non) cheering ritual is simple: “I just don’t celebrate my victories anymore.” He decided that for himself after he had his problems with the fans at the US Open 2019 and they did not appreciate it when the initially unloved Medvedev won and then celebrated his victories. “It’s going pretty well now,” he says with a smile.
Like a chess grandmaster
That is a gross understatement, however. Since last October, the 1.98-meter-tall man has won 20 games in a row and the tournaments in Paris-Bercy, at the ATP Finals and for Russia the ATP Cup in Melbourne.
The refore, Novak Djokovic, who has triumphed eight times in eight Australian Open finals so far, has been warned. “He’s the player to beat,” says the defending champion and world number one.
The way he tactically positions himself on the pitch is like a chess grandmaster. He’s definitely a very smart player. “
It also fits that Medvedev learned fluent French within a few months after moving to the Côte d’Azur. Today he still speaks French with his coach Gilles Cervara, who has looked after him for four years. In addition, he first studied economics and trade in Moscow, but then graduated with a trainer diploma. He is less interested in fashion or show business than in higher mathematics and physics. In addition, the family man married his girlfriend at the age of 22.
Playfully very similar
In terms of play, Djokovic and Medvedev, however, are very similar. A good serve, the ability to consistently and almost flawlessly dictate long rallies and to counter almost every attack by the opponents ice-cold. In the final, tennis fans can – or must – prepare for many long baseline duels. In the end, better nerves or greater fitness could make the difference. “
The experience of the US Open final (lost in five sets against Rafael Nadal) will help me,” believes the Russian. But he also says: “Djokovic is the favorite, because he never loses here in finals.”
The biggest question mark remains the fitness level of Djokovic, but after the sovereign performance in the semifinals, nobody believes in a serious injury anymore. So there is much to be said for an exciting final. Medvedev is probably the only player who can beat Djokovic at his own gun. And maybe he would allow himself some emotional cheers after all.
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