Unparalleled world number one Novak Djokovic demolished Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win his ninth Australian Open title and extend his record-breaking reign at Melbourne Park on Sunday. Djokovic overcame the fourth seed 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in front of 7,400 fans at Rod Laver Arena to end the Russian’s unbeaten 20 matches. By winning a third consecutive Australian Open for the second time, the Serbian won his 18th Grand Slam title to move within two of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who have 20 each, while denying Medvedev his first .
Rarely has a player been so dominant in a single tournament with the Serbian record-breaking ninth title pushing him past Federer’s eight at Wimbledon, but still far behind the 13 Nadal won at Roland Garros.
But it was a roller coaster ride to get there, with Djokovic losing five sets en route to the final and battling an abdominal injury that nearly forced him to retire after round three.
Although he admitted that continuing to play was a gamble, with the risk of the injury getting worse and affecting the rest of his season, the 33-year-old opted to continue and it paid off.
Medvedev, 25, is one of the smartest players on tour, leaving his opponents guessing with his flat, low groundstrokes, changing pace and angles, as he combines impenetrable defense with opportunistic attack.
But the Serbian, who was 4-3 against him but lost three of the previous four, had his measure.
In front of a pro-Djokovic crowd, Medvedev overcooked two forehands in his first service match and then sent one into the net to hand the Serbian the first breaking points, then a savage backhand immediately saw him on the rear foot.
Djokovic consolidated with a serve to love before the Russian ended up stepping aside with a wobbly 1-3 hold. But then a failed drop shot and a seeded volley got the Russian back.
Long exchanges ensued and it happened with the serve until some brilliant groundstrokes from Djokovic got three break points at 6-5. Medvedev saved two but not the third to lose the first set.
Undeterred, the tall, pencil-thin Russian kept coming and increased the pressure to break Djokovic’s opening serve in the second set, only for the Serbian to retaliate immediately.
Djokovic has won three games in a row, despite the disruption of two supporters who were sent off during an apparent refugee protest, as he took control.
He took a 5-2 lead with Medvedev crushing his racket in frustration as the set and the championship began to slip away.
Deflated, Medvedev abandoned his opening serve in the third set and never seemed to find a way to come back as Djokovic, in his 28th Grand Slam final against the Russian’s second, has leveraged his experience to close the match, falling onto the pitch to celebrate.
The victory bolstered Djokovic’s status as world number one, where he will mark his 311th week when the new rankings come out on Monday, surpassing Federer’s record of 310.
Medvedev will rise to a career-high three in the standings, behind Nadal.
Topics mentioned in this article