After declaring that Novak Djokovic’s stunning 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 Australian Open final victory over Daniil Medvedev was a “ masterpiece ”, coach Goran Ivanisevic said it was only a matter of time before Serbian and world No.2 Rafael Nadal overtook. Roger Federer in the battle for the Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic’s 18th major championship triumph puts him within easy reach of rivals Nadal and Federer, both of whom have a record 20 Grand Slam trophies. This is the first time that Djokovic is within two titles of the all-time record and he also extended his lead over Nadal and Federer in the race for the ‘big titles’.
“That’s good. Number 18. Now the chase begins. The chase is here and it’s great. [Novak has] a lot of confidence. “
As a tennis coach and fan, Ivanisevic is excited about what the rest of 2021 and beyond will offer in the race for Grand Slam supremacy. Djokovic and Nadal have teamed up to win 10 of the last 11 Grand Slam events, with Dominic Thiem’s breakthrough at last year’s US Open being the one exception.
“Rafa, for sure, will win one [more Grand Slam]I hope not two, but I give him one, ”said Ivanisevic. “Who knows? They’re amazing. They [are] produce better and better tennis every time you think [are] faded away. The young guns are coming, they are there but these guys are better, one step better in the final. I don’t know where the end is …
“It’s amazing what they are doing on the pitch. It’s amazing how they behave in big matches. I’m waiting for Roger to come back. It will be more interesting to see what will happen at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. [It] is just awesome. The race is here. I said a couple [of] years ago [that] Rafa and Novak [are both] will overtake Roger. I still believe it. I still think so.
As Djokovic’s coach, Ivanisevic has seen the biggest ups and downs of the Serbian’s last two years on tour. The Croatian was part of the squad when Djokovic saved two league points to defeat Roger Federer in an all-time classic 2019 Wimbledon final and he also supported the world No.1 when Rafael Nadal produced a superb display against his charge at last year’s Roland. Garros championship match.
After witnessing his man’s dominating performance against Medvedev at Rod Laver Arena, Ivanisevic’s assessment of Djokovic’s ninth final victory at Melbourne Park was straightforward.
“Today was just a masterpiece… [It was an] incredible, incredible performances, ”said Ivanisevic.
The 2001 Wimbledon champion endorsed every element of his player’s game. Djokovic won 68% of the points back on second serve (19/28), kept his unforced error tally at 17 and took 16 of 18 net points (89%) en route to victory.
“All [impressed me]. How he stayed calm, how he did it all exactly [how] we talked [about] before the match. All the key points, ”said Ivanisevic. “If you see Daniil’s record for [the] Last 20 matches (20-0), [it] was very impressive.
“[Daniil] was really playing amazing tennis, probably the best tennis ever here. [Novak had] all the key points to render Daniil’s service.
As he did in each of the nine Australian Open finals Djokovic played (9-0), the tour’s 82 title match came together at the perfect time in Melbourne Park. Ivanisevic was not only impressed with the six individual blows of the year-end world No.1, he was also delighted with Djokovic’s fearless attitude towards an opponent who had won his last 12 matches against Top 10 players.
“He wasn’t afraid of Daniil’s setback. He wasn’t afraid to come in. He was not afraid to serve, ”said Ivanisevic. “He served [well throughout] the whole tournament, so many aces … Novak was just perfect and executed and grabbed every chance …
“Honestly, I thought [this would be] a fairly even match before the match starts. But this is the final. This is Novak’s court. Novak has never lost a game here in the final. You can see it helped a lot in the end.
Djokovic’s record-breaking ninth title placed the Serbian in the most exclusive of Grand Slam clubs. Djokovic is only the second man, alongside Rafael Nadal, 13-time Roland Garros champion, to win at least nine titles in a single major championship.
“He showed the world again how tall and tall he is as a tennis player,” Ivanisevic said. “This is his tournament. Like Rafa at Roland Garros, Novak has [the] Australian Open. This victory is even sweeter [given] that I know what he has [gone through]. I know what kind of emotions and pain he’s been through [the] last week, and he won the tournament that way. It is simply amazing.
Djokovic’s run to his 18th Grand Slam trophy was perhaps his most complicated. The 33-year-old, who was making his 28th major final (18-10), conceded more sets en route to this league game (5) than any of his last 27 Grand Slam final rounds.
Two of those five sets were dropped in a dramatic third-round clash against Taylor Fritz. Leading by two sets-to-love, Djokovic suffered a tear to an abdominal oblique muscle in the early stages of the third set. The Serbian was pushed into the fifth set by the American, but he finally managed to pull through in three hours and 25 minutes.
Djokovic, who had an MRI after that game, was pushed to four sets in his next two matches against Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev, before playing painlessly in his straight-set semi-final victory over Aslan Karatsev.
“Some people can handle the pain. Some people can’t cope with the pain, ”Ivanisevic said. “It’s like that… [The] the key match for me was [the] one with Raonic, and after with Zverev. After that [he] was getting better and better.
Djokovic’s ability to deal with injury in his last four games of the tournament has been an inspiration for Ivanisevic.
“He is incredible. [This run] shows you the guy is just amazing, ”said Ivanisevic. “Mentally, I have never met someone like that… I have witnessed something incredible. This victory – with what he had – is amazing, just amazing.
The race for the Grand Slam titles will resume from May 23 to June 6 at Roland Garros. Nadal has won the Grand Slam Championship on clay 13 times since his debut in 2005, while Federer (2009) and Djokovic (2016) have both won the trophy on one occasion.