Australian Open: 'Novak will be watching' - Medvedev blocks path to record 21st slam for Nadal

By Sports Desk January 28, 2022

Daniil Medvedev is convinced Novak Djokovic will be glued to Sunday's Australian Open final, as the men's grand slam record goes on the line once more.

It was Medvedev who denied Djokovic a 21st singles major in the US Open final in September, inflicting a straight-sets defeat on the Serbian who was chasing a sweep of the 2021 grand slams.

Now Medvedev stands in the way of another of the 'Big Three', with Rafael Nadal also chasing a 21st slam and the outright lead on the all-time list.

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer each have 20 grand slam singles titles, and it remains to be seen whether any of that trio triumph again on the big stage, with Medvedev confirming himself as a leader of the upcoming generation.

The deportation of Djokovic from Australia before this tournament caused a major stir, denying the nine-time champion at Melbourne Park a run at history.

And all Djokovic can do is sit and watch from a distance, perhaps hoping for a Medvedev victory.

"I guess last time Rafa was watching near the TV, I don't know who he was cheering for," Medvedev said, harking back to the US Open. "But I think Novak will be watching this one in two days also."

The mention of Djokovic in Medvedev's on-court interview led to rumblings in the crowd, with many Australians having been glad to see him removed from the country when his visa was revoked.

When Djokovic was again mentioned in a follow-up interview with Eurosport, Medvedev said: "I'm definitely not going to think about this before or during the match. After the match, depending on the result, I'm going to think about him a little bit and about Roger probably also."

Medvedev's first taste of a grand slam final was against Nadal at the 2019 US Open, when the Russian lost a five-set thriller.

"We've played a few matches since then, and I'm ready," Medvedev said. "I know Rafa is a very strong player and I will need to show my best to try to win this match."

Medvedev, runner-up to Djokovic in Melbourne last year, aimed an outburst of anger towards umpire Jaume Campistol during the second set of his four-set victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday.

He was furious at Tsitsipas seemingly being coached by the Greek star's father from the players' box, but Medvedev quickly realised his own behaviour was unhelpful.

"I don't think emotions, bad emotions, help me too much and when I made it, many times I lose the match because of this," he said. "As soon as I did it, I was like, 'That was a big mistake'.

"But I'm happy I managed to re-concentrate for the beginning of the third set."

Having lost the second set, Medvedev snatched a crucial break at the end of the third, before cruising through the fourth to seal a 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory.

Medvedev said he had felt "so dead" after beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in a near five-hour marathon in the quarter-finals, but his energy has been replenished.

"I'm happy today was not five hours, so I could recover faster for the next one," he said.

"I'm gonna play against one of the greatest, and what's funny is again I'm going to play someone going for the 21st slam."

Before the tussle with Nadal, Melbourne will be gripped by Ash Barty's own pursuit of history, bidding to become the first Australian since Chris O'Neil at the 1978 tournament to land the women's singles title.

Barty faces Danielle Collins on Saturday, and Medvedev, as is his wont, managed to rile some of Friday's crowd by being non-committal on whether he would watch Barty, whose title match begins at 19:30 local time (08:30 GMT).

"I'm usually going to dinner at 8.15pm," Medvedev said.

Urged by on-court interviewer Jim Courier to come up with a different answer, Medvedev added: "I'm going to watch it on my phone guys, I'm going to watch it."

Related items

  • Krajicek: It is a 'matter of time' until Alcaraz is undisputed number one Krajicek: It is a 'matter of time' until Alcaraz is undisputed number one

    It is only a "matter of time" until Carlos Alcaraz is the number one tennis player in the world, according to Richard Krajicek.

    At the age of 20, Alcaraz has already won Wimbledon and the US Open, becoming world number one in September 2022.

    He was defeated in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open to kick off this year's grand slams, though, failing to win any of the three tournaments in which he has played in 2024.

    However, former world number four Krajicek believes Alcaraz is on his way to becoming the best, despite dropping to number two in the world rankings.

    "His potential is very high," Krajicek told Stats Perform. "I think he's the future number one.

    "I'm not saying anything special because he's beaten everybody. He beat Djokovic three times out of the last four times they played. He beat Medvedev from being two sets to love down, which shows how mentally and physically strong he is.

    "So for me, it's a matter of time until he becomes number one. I think he can play on all surfaces, maybe clay is his worst surface but all the other surfaces you would say he's a title contender."

    With the 'Big Three' of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic already retired or nearing the end of their storied careers, there's been much discussion over who will fill their boots.

    Alcaraz has already proved his abilities, while 22-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner claimed Australian Open glory to kick off this year having reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2023.

    Krajicek feels those two will lead the way for the next era of men's tennis, saying: "It's difficult to say who the next generation will be, but I think Alcaraz and Sinner will have a good rivalry. They already have played unbelievable matches.

    "Of course, Alcaraz has already been number one, won two Grand Slams. Sinner is now slowly coming also to that level. He is number four, maybe number three after this week."

    However, Krajicek has reservations over whether the likes of Alcaraz and Sinner can reach the legendary status of the 'Big Three'.

    "To really have the same kind of rivalry, I don't know if that's possible," Krajicek added. "I mean, together, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic won 66 Grand Slams. That's incredible. In every Grand Slam, they were in the final or winning. It's just amazing.

    "I don't know if it's possible to have two players or three players that basically win every Grand Slam they play. But I believe those two are going to be the two biggest names for the next couple years."

  • Thanasi Kokkinakis defeats Britain’s Dan Evans at Los Cabos Open Thanasi Kokkinakis defeats Britain’s Dan Evans at Los Cabos Open

    Australian tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis has beaten Britain’s Daniel Evans to advance to Mexico’s ATP Los Cabos quarter-finals.

    Kokkinakis advances with back-to-back top-60 victories after his 6-4 6-2 win against the world number 42 Briton.

    The win, which took just over two hours, marks his second consecutive win against a British opponent.

    The Australian defeated world number 53 Jack Draper earlier in the week.

    Kokkinakis made it to his first tour-level quarter-final since the beginning of 2023, securing a win with five aces compared to three for Evans.

    Evans hit three double faults during the match, while Kokkinakis had the better of the clutch moments, saving four out of the five break points against him.

    The loss also marks Evans’ third loss to the Australian.

    In the next round, Kokkinakis will play world number six Alexander Zverev and the top seed at Los Cabos.

  • Andy Murray defeat to teenager Jakub Mensik raises more questions over future Andy Murray defeat to teenager Jakub Mensik raises more questions over future

    Andy Murray’s future will come under further scrutiny after he lost in the second round of the Qatar Open to teenager Jakub Mensik.

    Murray has repeatedly said he is not about to retire after a horror run of form but the fierce competitor inside him will not be able to put up with too many more defeats like this, at one point appearing to shout to his team: “this game is not for me any more.”

    Murray, whose first-round win over Alexandre Muller on Tuesday was his first victory since October, was beaten 7-6 (6) 6-7 (3) 7-6 (4) in over three hours by the 18-year-old.

    The Scot will have nightmares about a volley he missed on set point in the first-set tiebreak and then the way he lost the final-set tiebreak after fighting back will frustrate him.

    Murray will consider Mensik an opponent he should not be losing to, especially has he had already won eight games on the ATP Tour by the time the Czech was born.

    But he handed the advantage to his opponent in the third game of the first set when two successive failed drop shots allowed the Czech to break serve.

    Mensik, just 18, had played some scintillating tennis in the first set but lost his nerve when he tried to serve it out at 5-4, with Murray breaking back.

    It went to a tiebreak and Murray will be going to bed thinking of the simple volley he missed when he had two set points.

    Instead of putting it into an empty court he dumped it into the net and went on to lose the next four points and the set.

    The second set went on serve, with Murray fashioning a break point at 5-5 which would have left him serving it out.

    However, he hit a short ball into the net and vented his frustration to his team.

    To his credit, he recovered to send the second set to a tiebreak and this time he did not mess about to level up at one set all.

    Murray appeared to have thrown it away as his level dipped at the start of the third and Mensik broke twice to lead 5-2 on the decider.

    But the 37-year-old, who is playing with a metal hip, unlocked prime Murray mode and won four successive games, including two where Mensik was serving the match.

    The youngster stopped the rot to send it to a deciding tiebreak and picked himself up off the canvas to claim a memorable scalp.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.