The match had all the characteristics of a classic, especially after a superb first set from both men, but the Serbian world No.1 quickly put his foot down and took a 7-5 6-2 6-2 victory. in less than two hours.
The victory secures a record-breaking ninth Australian Open title for Djokovic, who has just two Grand Slam tournaments left behind the all-time record of 20 jointly held by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Based on today’s performances, there will be very few bets against him to ever match – or maybe even pass – this marker.
While the match itself may have ended as somewhat anticlimactic, the post-match talks were anything but and showed the deep respect and admiration these two players have for each other. other.
“Just to tell you guys a little story,” Medvedev said. “I started training with Novak when I was 500 years old in the world or 600 in the world in Monaco and he was already world No. 1, had just won Wimbledon. I was like, ‘Okay, he’s not going to talk to me’ or something because the guy was a god to me.
“I came over there and because I was shy I didn’t speak, so he asked me questions, spoke to me like a friend. I was really surprised and it has never changed since I was 600 years old in the world or four in the world. You are a great sport and a great person, so congratulations. “
Djokovic replied: “I would like to return the nice words to Daniil. First of all, the class act. You are a great guy, a great person … We spent more time together, we trained more in Monaco. – – You haven’t called me over the last few years! But it’s nice to see that you are thinking good things about me, thank you very much.
“I really like Daniil as a person off the pitch. He’s great, always very personable, very sociable but on the pitch he’s definitely one of the toughest players I’ve ever faced in my life. It’s a matter of time when you go. Organize a grand slam that’s for sure… but if you don’t mind waiting a few more years. “
No change of guard
It was a fascinating showdown between intergenerational talents, with Djokovic, 33, representing tennis’s conquering old guard and Medvedev, 25, the rising stars who hope to one day dethrone the Serbian and his peers.
Based on Sunday’s final, that day still seems a long way off.
Coming into the game, Medvedev had reason to be confident. The world No.4 was on a 20-game winning streak and is only the sixth active player to achieve the feat, joining Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro.
But Djokovic looked imperious from the start, beating Medvedev in his first service game and twice standing with ease to take a 3-0 lead. However, playing only his second Grand Slam final against Djokovic’s 28th, Medvedev’s early nerves quickly dissipated and he quickly settled into his rhythm.
The turning point in the early stages came when the pair traded a superb 28-stroke rally, with Djokovic throwing his last shot into the back of the net to deliver the Russian breaking point. Medvedev duly capitalized with stunning defensive play to force Djokovic to another mistake and the first set was soon tied.
A few minutes earlier it looked like the Serbian was going to come away with the first set, but suddenly the momentum was with Medvedev.
The two clashed until Medvedev served to stay in the set at 5-6. As he often does at crucial times, Djokovic has shifted into high gear, finding more length and power in his returns to break up his opponent’s serve and close a hard-fought first set.
It was the eighth meeting between these two heavy hitters – with Djokovic ahead of the head-to-head 4-3 – and it had all the makings of their biggest game to date.
However, after Medvedev appeared to recover well from that early disappointment in breaking Djokovic in the opener of the second set, he quickly collapsed and in the blink of an eye he was two sets.
There seemed to be very little the world No.4 could do to prevent the onslaught and Medvedev’s racquet carried the brunt of his frustration as he smashed him into the floor of the Rod Laver arena.
While Medvedev undoubtedly claims the talent to compete with Djokovic – indeed, a superb drop shot in the third set elicited applause even from his opponent – the experience and mental resilience needed at times of adversity in the final. of the Grand Slam still seem to be lacking.
To Medvedev’s credit, he was eager to come down in style and land some superb shots on the ground as Djokovic tried to close the game.
However, the world No.1 proved he was still a level above Sunday’s opponent and ended any late hopes Medvedev might have won with a mind-blowing flurry of shots.