Novak Djokovic shrugged off the challenge of Daniil Medvedev to win a record ninth Austraian Open title and maintain his unbeaten record in finals in Melbourne.
Djokovic, the world No. 1 from Serbia, looked set for one of the biggest challenges he would face to extend his dominance Down Under but he was simply too strong for Medvedev in a 7-5 6-2 6-2 win in an hour and 54 minutes.
Medvedev, the Russian fourth seed, entered the match on a 20-match win streak but found himself unable to produce the devastating tennis he’d found in recent months and was second best throughout.
It was a second Grand Slam final defeat for the 25-year-old, who has established himself as one of the best hard-courters, and, in truth, it was disappointing he was unable to push Djokovic in the manner in which he pushed Rafael Nadal in the 2019 US Open final.
But Djokovic – who threatened to withdraw from the tournament due to an abdominal injury sustained in the third round -deserves great credit for the manner in which he frustrated the Russian, who smashed his racquet in the back end of a one-sided second set.
Djokovic has now won 18 Grand Slam titles and is just two behind all-time leaders Nadal and Roger Federer. The youngest of the trio, he looks the favourite to end his career with more major wins than his great rivals.
He will do well to match ‘King of Clay’ Nadal’s record 13 French Open titles but no other man has won a single Slam as many times as Djokovic’s nine Australian Open wins and he is well and truly the king of the Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic came out all guns blazing. Big serves. Heavy-hitting off the ground. Stunning returning. Medvedev, simply, couldn’t live with him.
The world No. 1 sealed the early break as he stormed to a 3-0 lead, overwhelming Medvedev as he sought a Mike Tyson-style early knockout.
Medvedev, however, is not one to be bowled over easily and he broke back as a deep Djokovic overhead careered into the net, The Russian was soon level.
Given these are the two most attritional players in the sport, the set was moving at a surprising speed. The first 11 games lasted only 37 minutes.
Five minutes later, Djokovic pounced. Medvedev found himself in a hole at 0-40 and cracked on the third set point as he sent a forehand into the net after a superb return from his opponent.
Medvedev didn’t waste time responding. He broke in the first game of the second set but he was immediately pegged back by the top seed in the second game.
The Russian was struggling to hold his serve and Djokovic, whose returns were in another stratosphere, broke for the third time in a row.
Medvedev’s temper frayed as he failed to break back in the seventh game of the second set, with his racquet an unfortunate casualty, and Djokovic soon broke again to tighten his grip on the contest by taking a two-set lead after an hour and 17 minutes.
The fourth seed wasted two opportunities to break to start the second set and a dumped volley into the net saw Djokovic break in the following game.
Djokovic quickly seized control of the third set with an early break after saving a couple of break points on his own serve and he was soon champion in Melbourne again.
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