Novak Djokovic defeats Daniil Medvedev to win 2021 Australian Open title
Novak Djokovic defeats Daniil Medvedev to win 2021 Australian Open title

Sucked in and spat out: Djoker fooled us all

Not in my house.

That was the clear message Novak Djokovic sent to Daniil Medvedev and the bunch of other would-be challengers who have been making noises about taking it from the champion.

And maybe he was even sending a little message to the man who owns the house, the great Rod Laver.

The tennis legend had made his prediction on Twitter and it surprised many by going against the Serbian who'd won eight titles in his building.

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"I expect Medvedev to push Djokovic all the way in the #AusOpen men's final. I won't be surprised if he breaks through for the win," Laver wrote.

"It's Novak's happy place at RLA but he will have his work cut out suppressing Daniil's happy, free-flowing strokes. This will be a great contest."

In many ways this was the perfect scenario for Djokovic.

The doubters were starting to circle, there was an injury cloud, no Roger Federer at all, no Rafael Nadal after the quarters, and an inexperienced challenger at the other end.

Many were sucked in by Medvedev's hot form given he was on a 20-match winning streak coming into the final and had won his past 11 matches against top 10 opposition.

The tall skinny Russian also had a decent record against the world No.1, he'd won three out of seven including the last meeting at the ATP Finals.

But this is Djokovic's house.

On the long walk from the locker room to centre court all of the past winners are pictured in the tunnel.

Medvedev would have gotten dizzy seeing images of his opponent.

In case he'd forgotten, Djokovic had been to the last Sunday at Melbourne Park on eight occasions and won every time.

CLICK TO RECAP HOW THE MATCH PANNED OUT

 

He spoke in the lead-up about his affection for the place and even used the term "love affair".

So how did he start his ninth visit to his favourite place?

He served a 201km/h ace to open proceedings, held his service to love and then broke Medvedev's first service game.

 

Tone set. Message sent. This is my house.

To the No.4 seed's credit, he broke back midway through the set and started to produce those stunning groundstrokes which had captivated everyone for two weeks.

But then, out of nowhere, Djokovic did what Djokovic does at the Australian Open, he found a way.

 

 

He set up several break points on Medvedev's serve at 6-5 and eventually wore him down with a sloppy forehand into the net ending an intriguing 42-minute set.

An early break to the Russian was a promising sign in the second but the champ soon dealt with that and then turned the screws.

This wasn't in the script for Medvedev who resorted to smashing his racquet to pieces at 2-5.

It moved Australia's grand slam champion Lleyton Hewitt to make this interesting observation in the commentary booth: "He's forgotten what it's like to lose."

Medvedev soon had a nice refresher as he was completely rattled in the third set, barely raising any sort of defence against Djokovic, who was well and truly in his happy place.

In the big picture, the victory gives Djokovic his 18th major title which brings him within two of Roger and Rafa, who would have been watching from their respective lounge rooms in Europe knowing their days are numbered.

At 33 and with a body that, apart from a mystery side strain earlier in the tournament, is pretty much bulletproof, you'd expect Djokovic to play for at least another four years.

That's 16 more grand slams but, more importantly, it's another four Australian Opens and we know what that means in the House of Djokovic.

Djokovic added an incredible ninth Aus Open title. Picture: Michael Klein
Djokovic added an incredible ninth Aus Open title. Picture: Michael Klein

 

WHEN WILL NEXT-GEN STAND UP TO FOUR-HEADED MONSTER?

-Marc McGowan

Usually when Novak Djokovic is in a grand slam final, particularly against a non-Big Four member and even more so in Melbourne, there's a fait accompli attached to the result.

"Can [insert hapless challenger] win a set?" is about as positive as the commentary gets beforehand.

Stan Wawrinka is the sole player outside of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to ever relegate Djokovic to runner-up status in a grand slam final.

Wawrinka has capitalised on his rare chances to win the 2014 Australian Open, 2015 French Open and 2016 US Open titles.

Outside of him, Marin Cilic (2014 US Open), Dominic Thiem (2020 US Open) and Juan Martin del Potro (2009 US Open) are the outliers since Marat Safin defeated Australia's Lleyton Hewitt for the 2005 Australian Open crown.

 

Djoker is fast becoming the greatest of the Big Four.
Djoker is fast becoming the greatest of the Big Four.

 

Otherwise, every other grand slam title in that period was won by Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray - plus Federer won three of the four slam titles in 2004.

It took Djokovic being defaulted, Murray being barely back from a pelvic injury and neither of Nadal nor Federer playing for Thiem and Alexander Zverev to contest last year's US Open decider.

Djokovic is now unbeaten in nine Australian Open finals.

That was largely Daniil Medvedev's logic when he opined that "it is him (Djokovic) who has all the pressure" after he swept aside Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday night.

These are the stark facts about life on the ATP Tour for everyone bar the four-headed monster that's dominated proceedings for the past 17 years.

For all the #NextGen hype the ATP's marketing team has generated, it took a 25-year-old Russian - one happy and willing to play the villain - to shake the oligarchy to its core.

So incredible was Medvedev's form during his 20-match win streak, which cut down every other top-10 member except for the injured Federer, that there was genuine doubt about which way Sunday's match would go.

That doubt is the hope every other would-be contender should cling to, even as the domination raged on, on Sunday night.

Djokovic and Murray are 33 years old, Nadal 34 and Federer 39.

The time is now for Tsitsipas, Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime - and Medvedev is showing it's possible.

Even if they're not quite there yet.

 

 

Originally published as Sucked in and spat out: Djoker fooled us all


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