Novak Djokovic, the world’s top ranked male tennis player lived up to his standards on Sunday as he defeated Daniil Medvedev to lift a record ninth Australian Open title and 18th major overall. Love him or hate him, there is no denying the fact that Djokovic is one of the best players to have ever graced the tennis courts. His love story with the Rod Laver Arena turned another chapter as he outclassed the mighty Russian, Daniil Medvedev in straight sets on Sunday, which in all fairness surprised quite a lot of tennis fans.
Heading into the finals, Novak Djokovic was by no means a huge favorite to claim the Australian Open title in spite of his past exploits in Melbourne. He was battered by an muscle injury in the final few rounds in Melbourne, but that never failed to bring him down. He battled past Taylor Fritz in five sets in the third round, when many would have questioned even the possibility of him finishing the match. But in the end, as it is often said, “Fortune favors the brave,” and it certainly did. Surely a fairytale ending for the Invincible Serbian in Melbourne this year.
Hated by the media, hammered by an injury but Djokovic still remains the man to beat in Melbourne
The past month has been tough for Novak Djokovic, both on and off the court. While on the court, he had to battle in pain, off court he was dragged into several needless controversies. After landing in Australia in mid-January, the Serbian was not pleased with the quarantine facilities for his peers who completed the two week mandatory quarantine period in Melbourne. As for Djokovic and other top athletes, they were given the privilege of quarantining in an exclusive Adelaide Bubble.
To address this disparity and vent out his feelings, Djokovic issued a letter to the CEO of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley demanding a list of facilities for the players. The media as often they do, splashed this entire matter in the public and portrayed the Serbian in a bad light. He was criticized by several tennis journalists, pundits, former players who questioned Djokovic’s sensitivity in regards to the current situation in the world.
Speaking about his on-court struggles, the Serbian endured one of the toughest Grandslams he has ever been part of. In the first round, he defeated Jeremy Chardy with comfortable ease. He was tested in the second round by the young American, Frances Tiafoe who showed immense fighting power and took a set off him.
Djokovic’s quest for a ninth Australian Open title got tougher as he developed an abdominal muscle strain in his third round encounter against Taylor Fritz. He was leading two sets to love before this unfortunate incident. Fritz capitalized on this opportunity and in no time he pulled back two sets and the match went into the fifth set. Tennis fans, journalists, commentators questioned whether he would finish the match or hand over a walkover. What followed in the fifth set, was an example of why Djokovic is an ‘invincible machine.’ He conquered his pain and defeated Taylor Fritz, claiming the fifth set.
Next-gen stars given a schooling by the master himself
In the fourth round, Djokovic came up against an old foe, Milos Raonic. Barring a minor hiccup in the second set, Djokovic got through the match in four sets and showed no signs of a serious injury, although he did admit that his journey further was in ‘God’s hands.’
Next up, for the Serbian was the ‘Next-gen star,’ Alexander Zverev. Many people would have placed their bets on the young German to knock the defending champion out of the Australian Open. However, that was not the case. After losing the first set in a close tie-breaker, Zverev was schooled by the master. The Serbian came back in fashion, winning in four sets and making his ninth semifinal in Melbourne.
In the semifinal, he was up against the Russian, Aslan Karatsev. Not many people would have heard his name before the Australian Open. Karatsev was a revelation in the two weeks in Melbourne, as he made his way to the semifinals, by beating some top stars like Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Grigor Dimitrov. However, he came up short in the semifinals against Djokovic, who defeated him in straight sets to set up a finale with Daniil Medvedev in the final.
Rod Laver Arena treated to a spectacle by Novak Djokovic ‘Again’
Daniil Medvedev vs Novak Djokovic was the talk in the tennis world in the two days leading up to the final. On one hand, we had a 25-year old Russian, Medvedev who took huge strides in his career in the past four months and was on a sizzling 20 match unbeaten streak. The Russian had defeated all of the current top ten players in the world in the past four months, barring Roger Federer who has not played a single professional match since last year. On the other hand, we had Novak Djokovic, eight time Australian Open champion, chasing his unprecedented ninth title in Australia and 18th overall.
However, the match certainly did not live up to it’s expectations, but tennis fans throughout the world were treated to some magnificent tennis by Novak Djokovic. The Serbian defeated Medvedev in three sets to lift yet another Australian Open title. There was not a single moment in the match, where it seemed as if Djokovic was losing control. If one word describes his performance on Sunday night, it is ‘perfect.’
You might be a Rafael Nadal or a Roger Federer fan or any other player’s fan, but none of us can deny the brilliance of Novak Djokovic in his own backyard in Australia. Tennis has given three epic love stories to cherish in the past 20 years- Rafael Nadal and the French Open, Roger Federer and Wimbledon and with his win over Medvedev on Sunday, we have another, Novak Djokovic and the Australian Open.
Goals keep getting higher and higher for Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic stated that he would take some time off before he gets back on court once again. He hopes to recover fully from his abdominal strain in what is an important year in the tennis calendar, with the Olympics lined up. The Serbian is all poised to overtake Roger Federer in most weeks spend at the top of the rankings, as he will complete his 310th week on first spot on March 8.
With his Australian Open triumph, he has added his 18th major title, just two short of Nadal’s and Federer’s tally of 20 slams. Djokovic will be surely looking forward to cut the gap on the duo, with the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open all lined up for this year. However, a top agenda on his list will be the Tokyo Olympics, where he would aspire to complete his ‘Career Golden Slam,’ by winning a Singles Gold Medal. In all fairness, this could be his last shot at an Olympic Gold Medal. Only time will tell whether he wins in Tokyo this year.