The final singles match of the Australian Open takes place on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Sunday when Novak Djokovic takes on Daniil Medvedev for the first Grand Slam title of the season in what promises to be a fantastic encounter.
Djokovic will be seeking a ninth Australian Open title here and an 18th Grand Slam win in all while Medvedev goes in search of a maiden victory at this level, but having won the ATP Finals last season this feels like the next step for him.
Halfway through this tournament it looked like there would be no chance that Novak Djokovic would still be in the competition at this stage when he picked up an injury which he claimed was a tear in his side. Clearly that wasn’t the case and although he has dropped a couple of sets since then, he has pretty much cruised into this final and will be looking to move to within two Grand Slams of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the all-time list.
There might be something in the Djokovic injury claim because he has noticeably put more on his serve in order to attempt to win some cheaper points which would highlight a problem, but he hasn’t really been tested enough to know for sure. It will be interesting to see how he moves here because Medvedev has the ability to change direction easily and could really test the Serb physically. It goes without saying that Djokovic has plenty of experience on his side.
There is a strong claim for Daniil Medvedev to be labelled the player of the tournament heading into this final. He has only dropped two sets in the competition, both of which came in the same match against Filip Krajinovic earlier in the campaign. Since then though he has dismissed his in form countryman Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets and with the minimum of fuss and a clinical approach which should stand him in very good stead here.
Confidence is a massive thing in sport and the Russian is going to be full of it going into this final. He won the season ending ATP Finals last term and started this campaign by being a focal point of the Russia side which won the ATP Cup earlier in the month and now he is in the final of this tournament. He has played a Grand Slam final against one of the big three and laid it all down to Rafael Nadal in an epic US Open final in 2019 so the big stage doesn’t faze him. He looks a genuine contender here.
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Head to Head
These two men have met on seven previous occasions and while we are getting used to Novak Djokovic having dominant head to head records over the majority of men he plays he doesn’t have that here. He does lead their past meetings at 4-3 but Medvedev will take plenty of confidence from that. The other thing that Medvedev will take confidence from is the fact that he has won three of their last four matches although it is Djokovic who has won two of their three outdoor hard court encounters. The Serb has also won their only previous Grand Slam battle which came here two years ago when the world number one won in four sets in the last 16. History sides with Djokovic but only just.
Although history will tell us that Novak Djokovic is a good thing here I like Daniil Medvedev to win his first Grand Slam title in this match. I just feel as though it is his time to come through and break into the elite. Djokovic will be a solid challenger, whether he is injured or not injured, but the last 18 months or so there has been a feeling that Medvedev has just had Djokovic’s number. That turnaround began in Cincinnati when he started double serving like a lunatic but since then he has been a different beast.
There was once a question mark over the temperament of Medvedev but he has improved remarkably in that regard and you’ve got to think as the younger man the longer this final goes the better his chance might be. That isn’t to say he can’t blow Djokovic off the court like he did at the ATP Finals 15 months or so ago. Other than experience of winning Grand Slams, something that shouldn’t be underestimated, I’m not really sure what Djokovic brings to the party that is massive ahead of Medvedev. I’m with the Russian here.
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