Novak Djokovic frustrated by speculation over Australian Open injury


Novak Djokovic’s place at the top of world tennis is once again indisputable after winning the Australian Open for a record ninth time, but he remains a target for criticism.

Over the past two weeks, people questioned the severity of an abdominal “tear” he said he picked up in a third-round win over Taylor Fritz.

As he continued to scythe through his competition at Melbourne Park, voices around the tennis world cast doubt on his story, with Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis apparently mocking him in a now-deleted Twitter post.

“I have no idea what he’s feeling or what he’s going through. I just heard he thinks he has a torn muscle. I didn’t mean it in a bad way at all,” Kokkinakis said when asked about his Twitter activity.

“I’m like, if he can recover from a torn muscle in two days, hats off. Teach me.”

“I copped abuse for it, but it wasn’t even taking a shot at him.” he added.

“If he actually has a torn muscle and can recover in two days, that’s impressive, because I haven’t been able to do that and it’s taken me months.”

A day after dismantling fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in the final, Djokovic revealed some more details of the injury, saying he had another MRI in the morning and the tear in his abdomen had grown from 17 millimetres to 25mm.

Djokovic said he had made peace with the fact “I can’t please everyone or be someone’s favourite tennis player”, but he could not deny the speculation about his injury got under his skin.

“I have feelings like anybody else and I don’t enjoy when someone judges or criticises or behaves unfairly before checking certain things and going out in public like that.

“But at the same time, I accept the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”

He also applied that logic to the moment on Sunday night when Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka was booed for mentioning the COVID vaccine on stage.

Djokovic said “she did very well under those circumstances … to stay composed” but he would not be drawn on whether he would be open to getting the vaccine if it was required to return to Australia for the tournament next year.

“Let’s see what happens. There have been a lot of discussions about that but nothing is yet concretely said about that,” he said.

“There aren’t any rules or regulations in place from ATP or slams. So I’m just going to wait and see.”

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Novak Djokovic admits successful Australian Open campaign in Melbourne took emotional toll


Novak Djokovic has described his ninth Australian Open championship win as one of the “most challenging” of his career, revealing he was hurt by the criticism he received prior to the tournament when he suggested player quarantine conditions be relaxed.

Djokovic was speaking after clinching his third consecutive title at Melbourne Park when he defeated Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the men’s final on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night.

It was the Serb’s 18th major singles crown, leaving him just two shy of the men’s all-time record held by his rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic found himself in the media spotlight last month when he wrote a letter to Australian Open organisers recommending the easing of quarantine restrictions for players.

He faced intense public criticism and was even labelled a “tool” by Nick Kyrgios on Twitter.

During the tournament, the world number one also had to contend with speculation about the severity of an abdominal injury he suffered in the early rounds.

Djokovic said he had to clear several emotional hurdles on his way to winning another Australian Open.

“Each one (Australian Open wins) is different, it’s hard to compare,” Djokovic said in his post-match media conference.

“But it has been definitely emotionally [one of] the most challenging grand slams that I ever had with everything that was happening — injury, off-the-court stuff, quarantines.

“It has been … a roller-coaster ride in the last four weeks.”

The criticism Djokovic faced before the Australian Open followed widespread disapproval of his behaviour last year when he organised the Adria Tour exhibition event in the Balkans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Multiple players, including Djokovic, ended up testing positive for COVID-19,

Djokovic said he had “developed a thick skin over the years” when it came to dealing with his critics but their comments could still carry an emotional impact.

“Of course it hurts,” he said.

“I’m a human being like yourself, like anybody else. I have emotions. I don’t enjoy when somebody attacks me in the media openly and stuff.

Djokovic said he never allowed criticism to affect his performance on the court, pointing to his Australian Open win as an example of his unwavering focus.

“I didn’t allow it to hinder my performance,” he said. “I think winning the trophy is in a way my answer.”

Claiming another trophy on Sunday night meant Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have won 15 of the past 16 majors between them.

Djokovic and Nadal have won nine of the last 10, with Dominic Thiem — last year’s US Open champion — the only other player to have lifted one of the major trophies during that run.

The presence of Nadal and Federer drives the 33-year-old Djokovic, who said the ‘Big Three’ were not prepared to relinquish their stranglehold of men’s tennis to the younger generation.

“Roger, Rafa, myself are still there for a reason,” said Djokovic, who won his first Australian Open in 2008.

“We don’t want to hand it to them and we don’t want to allow them to win slams. I think that’s something that is very clear.

“Whether you communicate that message or not, we are definitely sending that vibe out there. I’m sticking to that.”

Medvedev has long been touted as one of the genuine threats to the dominance of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.

Many seasoned tennis commentators considered the 25-year-old Russian a strong chance of breaking Djokovic’s hold on the Australian Open and he described his comprehensive defeat as tough to handle.

Medvedev said Djokovic, Nadal and Federer were unquestionably the “toughest opponents” he had faced during his career.

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Australian Open 2021 photos: Novak Djokovic cements title 'King of Melbourne Park'



Australian Open 2021 photos: Novak Djokovic cements title 'King of Melbourne Park'

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Novak Djokovic on being public enemy No.1


Djokovic has long been disliked by many, not helped by him staging a tournament during tennis’ pandemic lockdown and his anti-vaccination stance.

But it reached fever pitch when a letter he wrote to Australian Open director tournament director Craig Tilley in January leaked. In the letter, he had asked for a shorter quarantine for players and access to practice courts for those stuck in hard lockdown in Melbourne.

Novak Djokovic after claiming his third straight Australian Open men’s title.Credit:Eddie Jim

“Maybe they [Djokovic’s support team] were following when I was not with them, the news and stuff like this, getting involved and speculating, discussing, having conversations between us about what someone said in the media or whatever,” Djokovic said.

“I know that’s completely unnecessary for me. It did come to me. I mean, sometimes it’s really difficult to avoid it in a way. I mean, some of the things that some people say, of course, it does come across here and there when you’re watching a tennis match, commentary, someone mentions it, whatever. In some way or another it comes to you.

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“At the end of the day everyone who has the stage has the right to say what they want to say. It’s a matter on my side whether I’m going to react or not, in which way I’m going to react. I didn’t allow it to hinder my performance. I think winning the trophy is in a way my answer.”

Meanwhile, Djokovic indicated a major change to his approach to the tennis tour with the 33-year-old saying he was going to start caring less about the No.1 ranking, thus playing fewer tournaments in between grand slams.

This would also give him a better chance of ending his career with the most slams. He is currently on 18 behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who are both on 20.

It will also allow him to spend more time with his wife and children. Djokovic became emotional when asked if he missed his family while he was on the road.

“Now, after achieving the historic No.1 for the longest weeks at No.1, it’s going to be a relief for me because I’m going to focus all my attention on slams mostly. When you are going for No.1 rankings, you kind of have to be playing the entire season and you have to be playing well, you have to play all the tournaments,” he said.

“My goals will adapt and will shift a little bit, which means that I will have to adjust also my calendar – not have to, but I will have an opportunity to do that which, as a father and a husband, I’m really looking forward to that. Judging by what we’re seeing around the world, having family on the road with me will be a very difficult task.

“I haven’t made any commitment [to play] actually after Australia.”

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Novak Djokovic claims ninth Australian Open crown with straight-sets win over Daniil Medvedev in men’s final


Novak Djokovic’s dominance at the Australian Open has continued, with the world number one winning his ninth men’s title — and third straight — by defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Pre-match predictions of a five-set thriller come to nothing, as Djokovic dismantled the fourth-seeded Medvedev in under two hours, triumphing 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic has a perfect record in Australian Open finals and now has won three consecutive championships for the second time in his career.

The victory also gave him an 18th major singles title, just two shy of the men’s record held by his contemporaries Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic, who had been troubled by injury earlier in the tournament, said it was a satisfying feeling to win another Australian Open.

“It has been a roller-coaster ride for me, especially in the last couple of weeks,” Djokovic said during the presentation ceremony.

Djokovic has never lost an Australian Open final.(AP: Andy Brownbill)

Djokovic thanked Australian Open organisers for staging the tournament amid the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are a lot of mixed feelings about what has happened in the last month or so with tennis players coming to Australia,” he said.

“But I think when we draw a line in the end, it was a successful tournament for organisers. I want to congratulate the head of Tennis Australia (chief executive) Craig Tiley for making an effort.

“They did make a great effort. It wasn’t easy. It was very challenging on many different levels.”

The presentation ceremony had earlier been interrupted by booing and whistling when Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka addressed the crowd.

Ms Hrdlicka was booed when she spoke about COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as when she thanked the Victorian government for their assistance in holding the tournament.

Medvedev, who was bidding to become the third Russian to win the Australian Open men’s championship, had won three of his past four encounters against Djokovic.

But he was his own worst enemy at times on Sunday night, racking up 30 unforced errors during his defeat.

Tennis player hits a forehand.
Daniil Medvedev struggled to make an impression after losing the first set.(AP: Hamish Blair)

Medvedev paid tribute to Djokovic, who he described as a “great sport”.

“Nine grand slams in Australia, 18 titles, is amazing and probably not your last one,” said Medvedev, who was playing in his second final of a major.

“I have no words to say.”

Djokovic said it was “a matter of time” before Medvedev won a major.

“He’s definitely one of the toughest players that I ever faced in my life,” he said.

Medvedev’s appearance in the Australian Open final will lift him to a career-high ranking of three.

Djokovic takes control early

Djokovic was in cruise control in the early stages of the first set after he established a 3-0 lead.

Despite losing his opening service game, Medvedev was unflustered. He held serve and then broke back in the fifth game when Djokovic mistimed an overhead smash at 15-40 down.

As the set progressed it seemed a tiebreak would be needed to decide its outcome, however Djokovic made sure he had a say in the matter.

Leading 6-5 with Medvedev serving, Djokovic brought up three set points with a brilliant backhand passing shot. Medvedev saved the first two, but Djokovic converted on the third via an unforced error from his opponent.

Medvedev, who had won 20 straight tour-level matches before the final, started the second set on the right note when he clinched a service break in the opening game.

But Djokovic got the break back immediately, robbing Medvedev of the opportunity to build momentum early in the set.

Medvedev’s serve let him down again in the fourth game. Unforced errors on both his backhand and forehand wings cruelled his chances of holding serve, allowing Djokovic to leap out to a 3-1 lead.

Tennis player hits a forehand.
Djokovic only lost four games across the second and third sets.(AP: Andy Brownbill)

A set and a break up, Djokovic could smell blood, while Medvedev was becoming increasingly frustrated. He let his emotions boil over in the seventh game when he smashed his racquet on the court after falling behind 2-5.

His mood only darkened when he dropped serve in the next game, as Djokovic took a two-sets-to-love lead.

When Djokovic broke Medvedev in the second game of the third set, his victory was a mere formality.

He kept his nose in front throughout the set, forcing Medvedev to play catch-up in his attempt to stay in the final.

Djokovic held serve to lead 5-2 and he wrapped up victory in the following game when he broke Medvedev for the seventh time.

Look back at how the action unfolded in our blog.

Live updates

By Andrew Mcgarry

A wild tournament ends with a familiar champion 

Djokovic kisses the trophy after winning his ninth Australian Open title (AP)

At the end of a fortnight that saw some crowds, then no crowds, then the return of the fans –  it was good to see and hear a proper audience at Rod Laver Arena for the tournament’s conclusion.

The result is very familiar – nine titles for Novak Djokovic, and 18 grand slam crowns in total, just two behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

From the get-go, Djokovic was fierce and full-on at every point. He took on the man in form, Daniil Medvedev, and he proved far too strong. He out-hit him, out-thought him and outlasted him. The Russian has been very impressive in recent months, but he had no answer tonight.

This is the launching point for a huge 2021 for Djokovic. With Federer close to the end, and Nadal mainly up for the French, the world number one will be eyeing more grand slam titles before the year is out. He wants to be the greatest, and he will give it a red-hot go.

This won’t be Medvedev’s last chance to win a major, but he will need to find a way to play better in the crucial moments.

So that’s where we will leave our live coverage for the Australian Open.

Thank you for joining us on the blog for tonight’s final. There will be more stories on our website tonight and tomorrow in the washup of the Australian Open. In the meantime, this is Andrew McGarry, signing off. 

By Andrew Mcgarry

The men’s singles grand slam table right now:

  • 20: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal
  • 18: Novak Djokovic
  • 14: Pete Sampras
  • 12: Roy Emerson
  • 11: Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg

By Andrew Mcgarry

That winning feeling is all too much for Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open (AP)

By Andrew Mcgarry

So Djokovic takes home the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup for the ninth time at the House of Novak, AKA Rod Laver Arena.

By Andrew Mcgarry

Djokovic thanks his team, for dedicating so much time to him including Ule his physio.

He then turns to the circumstances of the Open:

Look, there are a lot of mixed feelings about what has happened in the last month or so with tennis players coming to Australia. But I think when we draw a line in the end it was a successful tournament for organisers.

I want to congratulate the head of Tennis Australia Craig Tiley for making an effort. They did make a great effort. They did make a great effort. Look, it wasn’t easy. It was very challenging on many different levels.

But, you know, I think they should be proud of themselves of what they have put together and allow this to come to Australia and be standing here as Daniil said and the closing ceremony. Thank you guys very much for making it possible.

Last but not least I would like to thank this court. I would like to thank this court. I would like to thank Rod Laver Arena. I love you each year more and more. It’s been love affair keeps growing. Thank you so much.

By Andrew Mcgarry

Now the champion:

I would like to return nice words to Daniil. First of all, class act. You’re a great guy. Great person.

You’re not calling me anymore in the last few years. But it’s nice to see that you were thinking good things about me. Thank you so much. I really like Daniil as a person off the court he’s great. Always very friendly. Very out going. On the court, he’s definitely one of the toughest players that I ever faced in my life.

It’s a matter of time when you hold a Grand Slam that’s for sure. If you don’t mind waiting a few – waiting a few more years. I would like everyone just to I think once more appreciate what he has done 20 match winning streak in the last couple of months. Amazing.

By Andrew Mcgarry

More Medvedev

Big thanks to my wife and my coach. Not the best day today. Probably good three last months after some tough circumstances. Thank you guys for being with me in Australia for a long time.

Hopefully we’re going to hold a Grand Slam soon.

last but not least I would like too thank you guys first of all for inviting us, even if it was not easy for some of you as we know. We’re still here. I see your happy to see tennis. I really wanted to make this match longer and more entertaining for you, but today was not the day. But thanks a lot for coming and supporting me. Your energy is very good. Thanks.

By Andrew Mcgarry

It’s Medvedev:

Never easy to speak when you just lost a final or a Grand Slam. But I’ll try to do my best. First of all congrats to Novak and your team. Nine Grand Slams in Australia. 18 title is amazing and probably not your last one. I have no words to say.

Just to tell a small story guys. First our practice with Novak when I was like 500 in the world 600 in the world in Monaco. He was already No.1. Just won Wimbledon.

I thought OK he’s not going to speak to me or something, because the guy was a God for me. I came there. Because I was shy. So I didn’t speak. He was asking the questions, talking to me like a friend. I was really surprised. It never changed since I was 600 in the world or four in the world you’re a great sport, great person. So congratulations.

By Andrew Mcgarry

Triumph for Djokovic (AP)

Audience comment by Charmaine Andrews

Well done to both players for making the finals.well done Novak for another title

By Andrew Mcgarry

There was a cascade of boos from the crowd when Hrdlicka thanked the Victorian Government.

Applause however when she thanked the thousands of volunteers who helped make the tournament possible… and to the fans.

By Andrew Mcgarry

Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka …

What an exceptional finish to two amazing weeks of tennis in Melbourne Park. And tonight, of course, was an opportunity to see a spectacular match and clearly the crowning of the King of Melbourne Park Novak Djokovic.

Novak you demonstrated … tonight what a tenacious competitor you are. You had no intention of leaving the Stadium tonight without the trophy in hand. This is your ninth Australian Open final. 50% of your 18 Grand Slam championships.

Daniil, tonight was not your night. You’re a fierce competitor. You’re the third Russian to make the finals of the Australian Open in our history. You should be very proud of your achievements.

Novak was unbeatable tonight. We’re all sure we’ll see you back here trying to take the crown off of him at some point in the future. Congratulations. 

Both players and frankly all of the players over the course of the last three weeks have been playing under exceptional circumstances. In fact, the last 12 months have been exceptional circumstances for everybody around the world. It’s been a time of heart felt challenge. It’s been a time of deep loss and extraordinary sacrifice for everyone. 

So we hope for those of you at home tonight watching, for those of you in the stands today, and for the many people who have been able to join us over the last couple of weeks that we bought a bit of hope for the hard work that’s ahead in getting back to normal.

By Andrew Mcgarry

Mark another down for the Big Three against the Next Generation…

Who will be the first one to beat one of Federer, Nadal or Thiem in a final?

By Andrew Mcgarry

Medvedev was broken seven times tonight – you can’t beat Djokovic when you can’t hold your own serve.

Medvedev hit 24 winners to Novak’s 20, but 30 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 17.

The most important stat for Djokovic tonight? 18 – the number of singles grand slam titles in his possession.

By Andrew Mcgarry

By Andrew Mcgarry

Just incredible stuff from Djokovic. He climbs to the stands to hug his coach and supporters.

What else can you say!

Nine finals, nine wins. 21 straight wins at Melbourne Park.

Medvedev had almost forgotten how to lose – but Novak reminded him tonight!  

By Andrew Mcgarry

Novak Djokovic wins his ninth Australian Open, beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. 

By Andrew Mcgarry

Medvedev to stay in the tournament

Second serve – Djokovic jumps on it, takes control and hammers for the corners. he gets the winner and it’s 0-15

Second serve. Djokovic gets the ball back, and Medvedev finds the net again. Two points away!

Some more uncanny deep hitting from Djokovic, but he hits the net with one return and it’s 30-15

Second serve and let. The crowd is being asked for silence by the umpire.

Medvedev produces a wide serve and Novak hits the net. 30-30

first serve too long. Djokovic hitting deep, medvedev pulls it wide, Championship point!

By Andrew Mcgarry

By Andrew Mcgarry

Djokovic serves at 7-5, 6-2, 4-2

Brilliant cross-court drop volley winner from Djokovic to start.

You can’t see where the comeback will come from.

The crowd tries to rev up Medvedev, as he hits a cross-court winner. 15-15

Medvedev winner! The crowd roars as he hits an off-forehand into the corner. It’s now or never. 15-30

And like clockwork, the unplayable serve into the corner. 30-30

That. Was. Too. Good. Medvedev was hitting for the corners, Djokovic drills a return on the line and the Russian can only block it in the net. 40-30

Second serve. Big rally, but Medvedev can’t find the opening, and finally he hits the net.

Djokovic is one game away!

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Novak Djokovic wins Australian Open final as Daniil Medvedev implodes


You can’t dethrone the king.

That’s the message Novak Djokovic sent to the tennis world as he won a ninth Australian Open title, demolishing Daniil Medvedev in straight sets on his favourite court in the world.

The Serbian is yet to taste defeat in a final on Rod Laver Arena and showed once again why he’s unstoppable on the hard courts of Melbourne Park, teaching his opponent a brutal lesson in the Russian’s second grand slam final.

A wild, see-sawing first set gave way to unmatched Djokovic dominance as the world No. 1 stormed towards a 7-5 6-2 6-2 victory, giving him his 18th major singles title — just two fewer than closest rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

In the post-match presentation, Djokovic called Medvedev “one of the toughest players that I have ever played in my life” and has no doubt he will win a grand slam one day — but added in an extra one-liner that cracked up the crowd.

“It’s a matter of time when you hold a grand slam, that’s for sure — if you don’t mind waiting a few more years,” Djokovic said to laughs from the crowd.

“I would like everyone … to appreciate what he has done, a 20-match winning streak in the last couple of months. Amazing.”

Djokovic also addressed the headlines generated pre-tournament by players complaining about quarantine, thanking everyone involved in putting on a successful grand slam in the middle of a global pandemic.

“There are a lot of mixed feelings about what has happened in the last month or so with tennis players coming to Australia. But I think when we draw a line in the end it was a successful tournament,” Djokovic said.

“I want to congratulate the head of Tennis Australia Craig Tiley for making an effort. They did make a great effort.

“Look, it wasn’t easy. It was very challenging on many different levels. But, you know, I think they should be proud of themselves and of what they have put together.

“Thank you guys (the Melbourne crowd) very much for making it possible. Appreciate it. Thank you.”

Djokovic got the better of a wild first set then looked like his usual self in the second, taking command of baseline rallies as Medvedev started to falter. The world No. 4 said after his semi-final win over Stefanos Tsitsipas all the pressure was on Djokovic as the heavy favourite, but Medvedev was the one feeling the heat as he self-destructed in incredible fashion.

His body language disintegrated as unforced errors mounted, while protesters in the crowd caused play to be halted mid-point during the second set, prompting an angry Djokovic to put his finger to his lips and demand silence from a raucous crowd that was finding its voice.

He broke for a 3-0 lead and maintained the rage, surging ahead 5-2 as Medvedev smashed a racquet in frustration before coughing up the set.

The third set was even worse for the world No. 4. Gone was the cheeky self-confidence that has been synonymous with Medvedev’s game as his remarkable implosion continued.

At one change of ends he could be heard muttering to himself: “This is unbelievable.”

Medvedev kept shaking his head and tried to speed through games, which was only making matters worse and exacerbating his temper tantrums.

Up 4-1, Djokovic was never going to give up his advantage and he sealed the result with ease, winning two of the next three games.

Djokovic started in red hot fashion, breaking in the second game then holding serve again for a 3-0 lead.

Medvedev’s serve has been a major weapon for him this tournament but Djokovic was uncharacteristically aggressive on his returns, wanting to stamp his authority on the match from the beginning.

Tennis reporter George Bellshaw tweeted: “Statement start from Novak Djokovic. Big, accurate serving and some heavy hitting off the ground. Will be impossible to handle if he carries on like that.”

Djokovic was bullying Medvedev, claiming 12 points to three in just eight minutes and thumping a stinging forehand return winner to start the fourth game, but his Russian opponent finally settled and held for the first time.

Growing in confidence, Medvedev hit back with a break of his own to make it 2-3 after Djokovic butchered two easy overheads.

Soon it was 3-3 as Djokovic’s extremely aggressive intent on Medvedev’s second serves — not his usual strategy — proved to be hit and miss.

Medvedev was more than willing to go toe-to-toe with the world No. 1 from deep in the court. The Russian rolled through games on his own racquet as the set progressed to 5-5.

The match was rollicking along with frightening intensity as Djokovic earnt three break points to steal the set. Medvedev saved two of them but the Serbian came through in a clutch moment to seal the opener 7-5.

The protest was the only thing that put Djokovic off during the second set but his sour mood didn’t last long. He raced to a 3-1 lead then surged ahead to 5-2 as Medvedev wilted badly.

Djokovic maintained the rage in the third as Medvedev fell apart, allowing the Serbian superstar to clock up his 18th grand slam title.

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Novak Djokovic wins Australian Open, beats Daniil Medvedev in men’s singles final, results, scores, draw, schedule, odds,


That means that counted for nothing and Djokovic aimed to show us all why.

They traded breaks in the first set then Djokovic mugged Medvedev in the 12th game to take a 7-5 win. In reality, it was all over there.

Djokovic was just too good in the second set and Medvedev gradually fell apart.

The third set was much of a procession as he couldn’t find a way to respond when Djokovic turned his powerful strokes against him.

Djokovic needed one championship point to seal the win and he took it with an overhead smash.

This is his court.

Djokovic won 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

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Australian Open final 2021 live: Novak Djokovic vs Daniil Medvedev start time, live scores, updates, men’s final, tennis news


It didn’t take the tennis world long to call out one of Novak Djokovic’s big backers for getting ahead of itself before tonight’s final.

Welcome to our live coverage of tonight’s Australian Open men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev.

Djokovic is chasing his ninth title at Melbourne Park while Medvedev is fighting for his first grand slam trophy after disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals.

The match is scheduled to start at 7.30pm AEDT.

PUNTER PUTS BIG BUCKS ON DJOKOVIC

One punter has a big payday riding on tonight’s match after betting $115,000 — the single biggest bet of this year’s Australian Open — on Novak Djokovic to win at odds of $2.25 with the TAB.

A Djokovic victory would net the individual $258,750.

‘OOPS’: OVER-CONFIDENT NOVAK EMAIL EMERGES

Novak Djokovic may be unbeaten in Australian Open finals, but a sponsor seemed to think he’s already won this year’s — before he’s even played it.

Ahead of the eight-time champion’s clash with Daniil Medvedev, his racquet sponsor HEAD offered its congratulations in a promotional email.

“Congratulations Novak,” said the email, posted on Twitter by tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg, which described Djokovic as a “record-breaking 9 time Australian Open champion”.

The gaffe was quickly rectified.

“Oops — we got ahead of ourselves!” a follow-up email said. “What we meant to say is … Good luck Novak in the 2021 Australian Open Final.”

The mistake is perhaps understandable, with top-ranked Djokovic’s eight titles already a record at the Australian Open.

However, Russia’s Medvedev takes a 20-match winning streak into the Melbourne final, where he is seeking his first major title.

AFP

NOVAK’S STRATEGY NEEDS TO BE ON POINT

Novak Djokovic heads into Sunday’s Australian Open final unbeaten on eight previous occasions in the title match, but knowing he will need to be at his mental and physical best to overcome red-hot Russian Daniil Medvedev.

The Serbian world No. 1 has had to battle injury and extract new levels of determination just to get to the final.

An abdominal injury in the third round put him on the brink of an early exit and left him unable to train between matches.

But after his semi-final win over another Russian, Aslan Karatsev, Djokovic reported he felt fitter than at any time during the Melbourne fortnight.

Tonight he will face an entirely different challenge against “chess player” Medvedev — the form man of tennis who is on a 20-match winning streak.

Medvedev, the world No. 4, is unbeaten since last November, including a straight-sets drubbing of the Serb at the ATP Finals in London.

“He’s just so solid. Also, I heard (commentator) Jim Courier calling him a master chess player because of the way he tactically positions himself on the court, and it’s true,” Djokovic said.

“You know, he’s definitely a very smart tennis player.”

Djokovic is into his ninth decider at Melbourne Park as he targets an 18th slam title to close the gap on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have 20 each.

But the 33-year-old said while experience was clearly an advantage, Medvedev would be a formidable adversary.

The Serb holds the phenomenal record of never losing a final on Melbourne’s famous blue courts in eight attempts spanning 13 years.

Djokovic will also be playing his 28th grand slam final. It will be the Russian’s second.

“Of course it contributes to more confidence, prior to coming into the finals, knowing that I never lost in the finals or semi-finals just makes me feel more comfortable being on the court,” Djokovic said.

“But each year is different, although it does have a mental effect on me. Maybe on my opponents, I don’t know, but on me it does definitely have a positive effect.

“But it’s not a decisive factor in the way the match is going to go forward, because each year is different.”

Medvedev, who has dropped just two sets so far, said that despite having all the momentum he will go into the final as the underdog.

“He’s the favourite because he didn’t lose. On eight occasions that he was here in the semis he won the tournament,” said the 25-year-old.

“Me, I’m … the challenger, the guy that challenges the guy who was eight times in the final and won eight times. And I’m happy about it.

“I know that to beat him you need to just show your best tennis, be at your best physically maybe four or five hours, and be at your best mentally maybe for five hours.”

Medvedev, who also reached the 2019 US Open final, losing to Nadal, has the weapons to trouble Djokovic, with a big serve, unrelenting returns and exceptional movement as he targets a maiden grand slam title.

Twelve of his 20 straight wins have been against top-10 players and he has won three of his last four against the 17-time grand slam-winning Serbian.

“Playing Novak seven times already is just a huge experience,” he said. “(But) I think when he’s in the zone he doesn’t miss. He goes down the line, cross, forehand, backhand, he doesn’t miss. That’s what is the toughest part of playing against him.”

AFP

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Australian Open 2021: Novak Djokovic faces Daniil Medvedev in men’s final


Date: Sunday, 21 February Time: 08:30 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and online; live text on the BBC Sport website and app; highlights on BBC One from 13:50 GMT.

Novak Djokovic goes for a record-extending ninth Australian Open title on Sunday as Russia’s Daniil Medvedev attempts to end the Serb’s dominance and win his first Grand Slam.

The world number one, who has won all eight of his previous Melbourne finals, is aiming for an 18th major title.

Djokovic trails Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who have 20 each, in the fight to finish with the most men’s Slams.

“He has more experience but more things to lose than me,” said Medvedev.

“I don’t have a lot of pressure because Novak has never lost here in the final. He has all the pressure to get to Roger and Rafa.

“But I think he’s the favourite because he hasn’t lost here.”

Fourth seed Medvedev, 25, will contest his second major final after losing to Spain’s Nadal in an enthralling 2019 US Open final.

After falling short of making an epic comeback in New York, Medvedev has another opportunity to become Russia’s first male major champion since 2005.

Medvedev is in the form of his life, having earned his 20th match win in a row by beating fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in Friday’s semi-final.

Djokovic ready for the ‘battle of the tournament’

If 33-year-old Djokovic is to win his 18th major, he says he will have to solve the puzzles set by “master chess player” Medvedev.

“I’m ready for the battle for the toughest match of the tournament, without a doubt,” said the Serb.

“Medvedev is playing at an extremely high quality. He’s the man to beat.

“I heard Jim Courier calling him a master chess player because of the way he tactically positions himself on the court, and it’s true. You know, he’s definitely a very smart tennis player.”

Djokovic struggled with an abdominal injury earlier in the tournament, saying it would have forced him to withdraw from any event outside of the majors.

But he has recovered and said he suffered no pain in his semi-final win against Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

On Saturday, Djokovic practised before a match for the first time since his third-round win over American Taylor Fritz when the problem flared up.

Novak Djokovic's route to the final

Djokovic looking to extend dominance at his ‘second home’

Few players have dominated a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era like Djokovic’s takeover of the Australian Open.

Nadal is the only man to have won more majors at the same place, claiming 13 titles at the French Open, with another win for Djokovic on Sunday moving him ahead of Federer’s eight Wimbledon crowns.

Djokovic describes Melbourne Park as his “second home” and the statistics starkly illustrate his dominance there:

  • By reaching the final for a ninth time, Djokovic has extended his all-time record for most men’s singles final appearances
  • Djokovic has won all eight Australian Open finals he has previously contested
  • The Serb has won 81 of his 89 career matches at Melbourne Park
  • Having won the 2019 and 2020 titles, he has won his past 20 matches there
  • Djokovic has suffered just three defeats at the Australian Open from 2011 onwards

While he has already created history in Melbourne, Djokovic has made no secret that he wishes to overhaul Federer and Nadal in the race to finish with the most men’s Grand Slam titles.

For many, that is the key indicator to determine who is the greatest men’s player in the history of the sport.

Medvedev plans to turn US Open defeat into positive experience

Since losing in the Vienna quarter-finals in October, Medvedev has won the Paris Masters and ATP Finals title, as well helping Russia win the ATP Cup earlier this month.

Not only is he simply winning matches, he is beating the best. Against Djokovic he is looking to earn a 13th successive win against an opponent ranked inside the top 10.

Medvedev has won three of his past four meetings with Djokovic but facing the Serb with the weight of winning a first major title should be a different proposition.

On what he has learned from losing to Nadal in New York, Medvedev said: “I took a lot of experience. It was my first Grand Slam final against one of the greatest and on Sunday I will face one of the other greatest.

“The experience from the last Grand Slam final is going to be a big key, to not get tight and to just play again.”

Daniil Medvedev's route to the final

What they say about each other

Djokovic on Medvedev: “He has a big serve. For a tall guy, he moves extremely well. Forehand maybe was his weaker shot, but he has improved that as well. Backhand is as good as it gets.

“He’s so solid. He doesn’t give you much. But he’s not afraid nowadays to attack and get to the net and take it to his opponents.”

Medvedev on Djokovic: “I know that to beat him you need to just show your best tennis, be at your best physically maybe four or five hours, and be at your best mentally maybe for five hours.

“When he’s in the zone he doesn’t miss. He goes down the line, cross, forehand, backhand, he doesn’t miss. That’s what is the most, the toughest part of playing against him.”

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Novak Djokovic puts ball back into Daniil Medvedev’s court


“There has been a lot of talks about the new generations coming and taking over the three of us, but realistically that isn’t happening still.”

Novak Djokovic

“There has been a lot of talks about the new generations coming and taking over the three of us, but realistically that isn’t happening still,” Djokovic told Eurosport.

“I mean we can talk about it all day if you want, but with all my respect about the other guys, they still have, you know, a lot of work to do.

“Of course Dominic Thiem winning the grand slam title [last year’s US Open] is fantastic. I mean these guys are very strong, they play high quality tennis without a doubt. Certainly they will be the leaders, those names that you mentioned, of the future of tennis without a doubt.

“But I’m not going to stand here and hand it over to them. I’m going to make them work their arse off for that.”

“I’m not going to stand here and hand it over to them. I’m going to make them work their arse off for that.”

Novak Djokovic

Medvedev has won all but one of his Australian Open matches in straight sets and is riding a 20-match winning streak, including victory over Djokovic at last November’s ATP Finals.

While Medvedev was oozing confidence after his stunning three-set semi-final win over Tsitsipas, declaring that the pressure was on the Serbian, he remained cautious about Djokovic’s best level.

“To be honest, I think it’s when he’s in the zone he doesn’t miss. He goes down the line, cross, forehand, backhand, he doesn’t miss,” said Medvedev, the world No.4 who will jump up two spots with victory.

“That’s what is … the toughest part of playing against him. I think that’s where I should be good also and that’s where my game is good. Same answer.

“That’s why some matches that we played are really I think unbelievable matches. I find them – you know, few times I saw the highlights, and I was, like, ‘Wow, this level is unbelievable.’ That’s what I have to do to keep up with him on Sunday.”

Medvedev watched the Djokovic drama in the third round when the Serbian fought against an abdominal injury to eventually beat American Taylor Fritz in five sets. Djokovic later said he didn’t know if he’d be ready for the next round.

“I have seen a lot of matches from him because he plays in the evening and we are also in lockdown so I was watching the television,” said Medvedev.

“Yeah, for sure, some controversies. Against Fritz, I went to sleep. I actually thought he was gonna lose because we saw he was in pain. He couldn’t fake it to lose two sets. He was up.”

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When he beat Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev comprehensively to reach the final, Djokovic declared he was in better shape.

“I’ve been through a bit of a rollercoaster this tournament, with injury and some tough four-setters and five-setters,” he said.

“I was really looking forward to … play without pain and swing through the ball really nicely. The peak performance came at the right time for me.”

While declaring that Djokovic, aiming to win a third straight Australian Open for a second time, was the clear favourite, Medvedev was happy to embrace the challenge of unseating Djokovic on his favourite surface at his favourite tournament.

“Me, I’m – how you can call it, I don’t know how you call it in English, not an outsider but I’m – the challenger, the guy that challenge the guy who was eight times in the final and won eight times,” said Medvedev.

“We have, since the first one when I was ranked [about] 60, we had always tough matches physically, mentally.

“When I say no pressure, for sure when we get out there we both feel pressure. I want to win my first one. He wants to win number 18.

“I think if we talk in general, well, I have nothing to lose, to be honest.”

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