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February 22, 2021

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Djokovic thrashes Medvedev to take record 9th Aussie title

PEERLESS world number one Novak Djokovic demolished Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win his ninth Australian Open title and extend his record-breaking reign at Melbourne Park yesterday.

Djokovic overpowered the fourth seed 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in front of 7,400 fans at the Rod Laver Arena to end the Russian’s unbeaten run at 20 matches.

In winning a third straight Australian Open for the second time, the Serb claimed his 18th Grand Slam title to move within two of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who have 20 each, while denying Medvedev his first.

Rarely has a player been so dominant at a single tournament with the Serb’s record-extending ninth title moving him past Federer’s eight at Wimbledon but still a long way behind the 13 Nadal has won at Roland Garros.

But it was a rollercoaster ride to get there, with Djokovic dropping five sets en route to the final and battling an abdominal injury that nearly forced him to pull out after the third round. Despite admitting it was a gamble to keep playing, with a risk the injury could get worse and affect the rest of his season, he chose to continue.

“Thanks to this court, the Rod Laver Arena, I love you each year more and more — the love affair keeps going,” said a relieved Djokovic, while paying tribute to Medvedev.

“Daniil, a class act, great guy and great person,” he said.

“I really like him off the court ... but on court he’s definitely one of the toughest players I have ever faced in my life.

“It’s a matter of time till you hold a Grand Slam.”

Top official booed

Djokovic’s speech to the crowd came after Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka was booed for mentioning the COVID vaccine and the Victorian state government.

The unusual scenes came at the end of a tournament that was delayed three weeks over the coronavirus and had to bar fans for five days when authorities ordered a snap lockdown.

Medvedev, 25, is one of the smartest players on tour, keeping his opponents guessing with his flat and low groundstrokes, changing up the pace and angles, as he blends impenetrable defense with opportunistic offence.

But the Serb, who held a 4-3 head-to-head record against him but had lost three of the previous four, had his measure.

“It’s never easy to find words when you have just lost the final of a Grand Slam,” said Medvedev.

“But congrats Novak and his team. I mean, nine Grand Slams in Australia and 18 in total is amazing and probably not the last one.”

“I really wanted to make this match long and more entertaining, but today was not the day.”

The strong win reinforced 33-year-old Djokovic’s status as world number one.

He will mark his 311th week at the rtop when the new rankings come out today, passing Federer’s record of 310.




 

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