MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic’s dominance at the Australian Open is intact – nine finals, nine championships.
And he continues to win over Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam standings, now at 18 overall, two short of the men’s record shared by his two rivals.
Djokovic used superb serve and his usual relentless return and base excellence to win 11 of 13 games in one fell swoop and beat visibly frustrated Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday for a third straight trophy at Melbourne Parking.
The 33-year-old Serbian improved to 18-0 in the semi-finals and hard courts of the Australian Open.
Looking at the big picture, Djokovic has won six of the last 10 majors and is sure to remain No.1 in the table until at least March 8. That will give him 311 weeks in first place, breaking a mark held by Federer.
No.4-ranked Medvedev was in his second Grand Slam final – he was Nadal’s finalist at the 2019 US Open – but he’s still trying to win his first such championship.
Djokovic ended the 25-year-old Russian’s 20-game winning streak. Medvedev had also won his previous 12 matches against Top 10 opponents.
But facing Djokovic in Australia is a much different challenge.
In the second set, as the going was going, Medvedev bounced his white racquet off the blue court, then completely destroyed it with a full spike. At the third, he continued to look at his trainer with his palms up as if to ask, “What can I do here?”
It’s a familiar feeling in this stadium, on this court, in this tournament. Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem – all Grand Slam champions, all beaten by Djokovic in the semi-finals or the final in Melbourne.
Download the NBC News app for the latest news and politics
So place the nine triumphs in Australia alongside five at Wimbledon, three at the US Open and one at Roland Garros for Djokovic.
The math looks good for Djokovic. He’s about a year younger than Nadal and 6 1/2 younger than Federer, who turns 40 in August. Federer hasn’t competed for more than a year after undergoing two knee operations, but is expected to look to touring next month.
On a cool, cloudy evening, a three-week delayed event due to the coronavirus pandemic concluded with an reported attendance of 7,426 at Rod Laver Arena. Spectators were excluded entirely for five days earlier in the tournament due to a local Covid-19 lockdown, but they were eventually allowed to return to 50% of their capacity.
A majority favored Djokovic on Sunday, so many refrains of his nickname resounded – “No-le, No-le, No-le!” – and Serbian flags dotted the stands, fluttering in a swirling breeze.
It was his 28th major final, even with Nadal for the second tallest man in tennis history, behind Federer’s 31.
In the end, after less than two hours, Djokovic fell onto his back on the pitch, limbs splayed. He said he felt at home there and was not ready to give up the property.