February 21, 2021
Novak Djokovic cruised to his ninth Australian Open title with a perfect blend of punishing precision and supreme mental strength.
What a record. What a player. Djokovic continues to make history and he hasn’t finished yet.
He even warned Medvedev later that the Russian might have to wait two more years before he wins his first Grand Slam.
This was surely one of Novak’s greatest performances, rounded off with an acrobatic overhead and a mighty roar.
But not even the great man could have dared to dream it would be quite so straight forward.
Few, if any would have predicted 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.
Many of us thought Daniil Medvedev had an excellent chance to win his first Grand Slam.
He had just won twenty matches on the bounce and he had beaten Djokovic in London late last year.
Even the legendary Rod Laver stated before the match that he ‘wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks through for the win…with his happy, free-flowing strokes.’
In this final, however, poor Daniil felt little happiness – and his strokes weren’t particularly free-flowing either.
Maybe none of us should have dared to doubt the determination of Djokovic to make Medvedev eat his pre-match words.
The Russian had talked about all the pressure being on Novak, because the veteran was so desperate to catch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on their Grand Slam total of twenty.
Well, Djokovic just edged closer and now has eighteen majors.
He’s not feeling the heavy weight of history on his shoulders just yet, Daniil.
In fact all the stress and tension seemed to linger within Medvedev.
He was broken immediately. And although he was brave enough to break back, he never had the composure to make his comparative youth count in the long run.
When it really mattered, at the end of that first set, Djokovic broke to draw first blood.
As all set-winners are, the Serb was vulnerable early in the second. But he soon resumed with his customary ruthlessness.
Novak was a mesmerising master all over the court. Impossible elastic reaches from the back, beautifully artistic angles at the net.
And the more he saw his dream slip away, the tighter Medvedev seemed to get.
It was such a shame, because this had all the makings of a classic final.
If Daniil had played to his potential, it could have been one of the great five-setters.
And there were still memorable moments. Djokovic warmly applauded a rare moment of Medvedev magic at the net.
As the spectators roared, Daniil appealed to the crowd to lift him higher, and he tried so hard to break back in the third.
But for the younger man, much of the match was just that – trying too hard.
And you couldn’t blame him for attempting to force it, when everything he sent over the net was returned with such wounding depth.
Sure, Medvedev shouldn’t have allowed his self-belief drain away quite so noticeably. He smashed a racquet in fury early in the second set. And in that moment you almost knew that was the end of the meaningful contest.
But what can you do when you’re playing the ultimate tennis machine in this kind of form?
Djokovic is even about to surpass the great Roger Federer for the number of weeks he has been number one in the world.
No wonder Novak was so generous when he spoke after Medvedev. He said: ‘Daniil you are a great guy and a great person. We used to practise more in Monaco but you don’t call me so often these days. I’m glad you’re still thinking good things about me.
‘You’re definitely going to win a Grand Slam, that’s for sure. If you don’t mind waiting two more years?
‘Thanks to everyone who has been with me on this ride, it has been a rollercoaster in the last couple of weeks but the tournament has been a success.’
Medvedev had said: ‘Congrats to Novak. Nine Grand Slams in Australia and it’s probably not your last one, so what can I say? You have always been great to me, whether I was 600 or 4 in the world. I really wanted to make this match longer but today was not the day. Thanks to the crowd for supporting me with your energy.’
And there will be even more energy at Wimbledon 2021. Be sure to join us!
Federer will be back. Nadal will be pushing for another Slam. Andy Murray will want to go out with a bang. His friend Nick Kyrgios fears no one and never tightens against Novak.
At Wimbledon, you sense, the great Djokovic won’t have it all his own way like he did in Melbourne.
But for now, we salute him. What a performance!
And Djokovic could well end his career as the greatest there has ever been.