Daniil Medvedev will climb to number two in the ATP rankings later this month, with his small step signalling that big change is afoot in the men's game.

The leading two positions have been occupied by a combination of the 'Big Four' ever since Rafael Nadal climbed above Lleyton Hewitt to take second place on the ladder on July 25, 2005.

Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have all had spells at number one in the years since then, and no other player has had a look-in on those leading two positions.

Within days, however, that is about to change, as the younger generation of players gains a first foothold in the top two.

The ATP, which runs the men's game, said on Saturday that 25-year-old Medvedev is certain to nudge up one place from his current position of world number three when the rankings, are published on March 15.

The Russian is currently on 9,735 points, 115 points behind Nadal, and he has a first-round bye at the Open 13 Marseille next week.

The ATP, tweeted: "With the release of next week's @atptour draws, @DaniilMedwed is confirmed to become World No. 2 in @FedEx ATP Rankings on 15 March. Medvedev will be the 1st player in the Top 2 since 25 July 2005 other than the Big 4 of @DjokerNole, @RafaelNadal, @rogerfederer and @andy_murray."

Medvedev, who won the ATP World Tour Finals title in November and reached the Australian Open final last month, missed an early chance this week to move ahead of Nadal when he lost in the first round of the Rotterdam Open.

Former champion Michael Stich urged tennis stars to "consider themselves lucky" when Wimbledon returns after last year's cancellation.

Prospects of the tournament going ahead in front of London crowds appear suddenly bright, with lockdown restrictions due to be lifted over the coming months.

There may still be restrictions on travel into the United Kingdom from abroad, however, by the time Wimbledon comes around. The fortnight-long tournament is due to begin on June 28, one week after all COVID-19 restrictions on daily life are scheduled to end in England.

Wimbledon has said it is planning for "scenarios of full, reduced and no public capacity", and it may be the ferrying of thousands of players and their support teams to the tournament that proves the greatest logistical headache.

The grass-court major was scrapped last year amid the pandemic, not taking place for the first time since the second World War.

The Australian Open quarantined for 14 days all the tennis players, entourages and officials who arrived in the country ahead of the recent grand slam in Melbourne, which led to some grumbling among tour stars.

Men's champion Novak Djokovic later said many players were reluctant to continue with the season if being confined to a hotel room was going to become the norm.

Stich, who beat fellow German Boris Becker in the 1991 Wimbledon final, says tennis pros should be grateful they have the opportunity to make a living, even if it means making a sacrifice. Given the proximity of the French Open to Wimbledon on the calendar, elite players may face plenty of time cut off from friends and family.

"I still believe that all the players should consider themselves lucky to actually be able to go to work. We do have a lot of sports competitions that do not have this luxury," Stich told Stats Perform News.

"Therefore, five weeks of quarantine might be a high burden for sure, I couldn't imagine that. But still, to actually participate in a tournament and to earn money through playing in that tournament, which is vital for many people these days, is definitely a present.

"We will have to wait and see what will happen to the pandemic and which scenarios we can create to play there. In Europe, the distances are small, so players should think about their travel arrangements.

"If players are, for example, in quarantine [at grass-court tournaments] in Stuttgart or Halle, they can enter the country through a transport method that can exclude themselves from the masses - then it is basically as if they entered a consistent quarantine.

"Maybe then it can become possible. I truly wish that Wimbledon will go ahead for the players and primarily for the fans."

Roger Federer would have the perfect moment to bow out of tennis if he lands a ninth Wimbledon title this year, according to former SW19 hero Michael Stich.

Swiss great Federer has not played on tour for over a year after undergoing knee surgery twice, and Rafael Nadal has matched his tally of grand slam titles during that time.

By winning at the delayed French Open last year, Nadal joined Federer on a record 20 slam titles, with Novak Djokovic just two behind that pair after his Australian Open triumph last week.

At the age of 39, Federer is on the comeback trail and planning to play tournaments in Doha and Dubai in March, building up to Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, key goals for what might prove to be his final season on tour.

"It is clear that at some point he will stop," Stich, the 1991 Wimbledon champion, told Stats Perform News.

"Many would have thought that already five years ago. We have no influence on that. I would wish for him to win Wimbledon and say after the final: 'You know what, I had a sick time, I'll stop.'

"There couldn't be anything better and that would give so much to the sport."

Stich believes it is "questionable" whether Federer will be capable of success on that scale, but he sees Wimbledon as his greatest opportunity.

"You should never write him off because he is a player who has a gifted set of skills that help him to still play tennis that good at his age," Stich said.

"He may have the problem that the younger generation no longer has this huge respect for him because he was out for a year. The mental side plays a big role there.

"But especially at Wimbledon he is certainly still a candidate for the title, because there he has this mental strength, because there he has the greatest joy.

"The nice thing is that everyone is looking forward to his comeback and wants to see what happens. He has nothing to lose. He doesn't have to prove anything to himself, he doesn't have to prove anything to the fans out there. He's really doing it because he thinks he can still win titles."

With Nadal and Djokovic winning the last two majors, the prospect of Dominic Thiem's US Open win last September triggering a sea change in the men's game has fallen away.

According to Stich, the likes of Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev cannot just wait for the old guard to make way and must instead find a way to disrupt their dominance.

"As a spectator and fan, I naturally wish that the passing of the torch would still happen during the active time of the 'Big Three'," Stich said.

"It's the big goal of all young players that they would like to beat a Roger Federer, a Novak Djokovic, and a Rafael Nadal in a grand slam final. An Andy Murray and a Juan Martin del Potro did it. The only two in what felt like 20 years, and Stan Wawrinka, who is not to be forgotten with three titles.

"It's up to the young generation now and they are no longer 19. They are all 22, 23, 26. Dominic Thiem achieved it at the US Open. One would of course wish that they actively shape this transition, but that is looking into the future."

Stich says he has "no idea when that will happen", but he believes there will be another great generation that emerges, just as tennis moved on from the golden era of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, and latterly the days when Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi dominated.

"We have a generation in which three players shaped this period extremely," Stich said. "Now is a chance for the others to step into the spotlight. The next generation will follow in their footsteps. I'm not worried about that."

The next generation of tennis players are not close to knocking world number one Novak Djokovic off his mantle, according to three-time grand slam winner Andy Murray.

Djokovic’s big-match experience shined through while cruising to a straight-sets win over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev to seal his ninth Australian Open win and 18th career grand slam title.

The Serbian has lifted six of the last 10 slams, with 20-time slam-winner Rafael Nadal claiming three and Dominic Thiem capturing his first major honour at the 2020 US Open.

The draw opened up for the Austrian in Flushing Meadows when Djokovic was eliminated after defaulting in the fourth round when hitting a line judge with a stray ball.

Thiem is the only first-time winner of a major in the past 24 events over a six-year period, and Murray cannot see a changing of the guard anytime soon.

"The younger guys, for me, they've not shown that they're particularly close," Murray said.

"I expected the [Australian Open] final to be closer but it's a different standing to return or to serve in a grand slam final than a quarter-final or a semi.

"When you're coming up against someone who's won 17 of them, it's pretty intimidating.

"Obviously at the US Open, Dominic Thiem did what he had to do to win the event. But if Novak hadn't put a ball through the line judge's throat, it would have been the same outcome, I think."

Preparing for his first tour event of the season, an ATP 250 tournament in Montpellier, France, Murray has kept his distance from the grand-slam scene while rehabbing a long-term hip injury.

The 33-year-old admits he didn't even watch any of the action from Melbourne Park as he aims to rebuild his fitness and return to the highest level.

"I didn't watch any because I wanted to be there myself. It was a struggle to be honest," Murray added.

"I stopped following all the tennis players on social media and stuff because I just didn't really want to see it."

Murray goes up against world number 83 Egor Gerasimov of Belarus in the round of 32 on Tuesday, after finishing as runner-up to Ukraine's Illya Marchenko in an ATP Challenger event last week.

 No need to discard Jason Holder as Test captain.

    How do we evaluate a captain? Do we use their win-loss record? Do we judge their on-field performances? West Indies Test captain Jason Holder should continue as the team’s leader despite calls for Kraigg Brathwaite to replace him at the helm.

The calls have come after Brathwaite led the squad to victory over Bangladesh in a two-Test series two weeks ago while Holder opted not to tour due to health and safety concerns.

 Changing captains is not the answer to the West Indies’ problems and if the selectors were to do so it would be a very rash and irresponsible decision. It would also amount to a knee-jerk reaction.

When Holder was selected to be Test captain in 2015, it was purported as a “long-term” appointment. By replacing Holder with Brathwaite after success in one Test series, the selectors run the risk of undermining Holder’s confidence by bringing into question his ability to lead. Nothing good would come from that.

 It would be inaccurate and quite unfair to say Holder has had no success as captain as he did win the Wisden Trophy in 2019.

The 29-year-old Holder has grown as a cricketer and is one of the world’s leading Test cricketers, ranked third on the all-rounder’s chart, 11th in bowling and 43rd in the batting rankings.

He has a lot to offer to the team and each player can learn from his exploits in different formats and levels of the game.

It is also key to note that just recently, Kraigg Brathwaite was stripped of the vice-captaincy and told to focus on improving his game.

The Windies will be confident going into their series against Sri Lanka. So instead of causing unnecessary division within the team by changing captains, each player should be encouraged to learn from the other and cooperation should be encouraged.

Both Holder and Brathwaite can work alongside each other. Holder could learn a thing or two from Brathwaite and vice versa.

 So instead of focusing on who should be captain, the focus should be on building around the core and planning for the future.

 

 The NBA All-Star Game should be cancelled.

 

The 2021 All-Star Game was initially cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic but the NBA has reversed the decision and decided to hold a one-night event in Atlanta on March 7, despite public objection from players.

Despite players like LA Lakers star LeBron James coming out and voicing his displeasure with the league’s decision saying that he will be there physically but not mentally, the NBA’s persistence in continuing with the All-Star Game, gives the impression that player safety and concerns are being overlooked in the name of profit.

The All-Star Weekend provides fans with the ability to interact tradition with their favourite players. However, the fact that Covid-19 has prevented fans from being at the games undermines the need this season.

We live in unprecedented times and the safety and health of the players should be of paramount importance, and it is not unreasonable to believe that the All-Star Game could trigger virus clusters that put even more players at risk.

 

Is all this worth risking the rest of the NBA season?

 Novak Djokovic is unstoppable!  Novak Djokovic extended his dominance at the Australian Open beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 to secure his18th Grand Slam title.

The 33-year-old Djokovic dispensed of his opponent in an hour and 53 minutes to claim his ninth Australian Open title and move with two of the number of titles won by both Roger Federer’s and Rafael Nadal.

Not even an abdominal injury suffered earlier in the tournament could prevent the Joker from continuing his relentless march to catch up with his two contemporaries.

Congratulations!

Novak Djokovic believes he silenced his critics by triumphing at the Australian Open after finishing the tournament with a torn oblique muscle. 

Djokovic clinched a record-extending ninth Australian Open title and 18th major overall with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 thrashing of Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev on Sunday. 

The Serbian faced criticism before the tournament over a list of requests for players who were in quarantine due to coronavirus, while also being questioned over the severity of the oblique injury suffered during a third-round win over Taylor Fritz. 

Djokovic felt the backlash was unfair, but believes he answered in the best way possible by winning the title in Melbourne again. 

"Of course, it's not nice to hear that. I mean, it also seems unfair from some people that kind of criticise and judge without really checking before," the world number one told a news conference. 

"But as I said, it's not really the first time. I have so much experience with this because it happened so many times in my life, in my career, that I experience that. It will probably not be the last one. 

"Look, at the end of the day everyone who has the stage has the right to say what they want to say. It's a matter on my side whether I'm going to react or not, in which way I'm going to react. I didn't allow it to hinder my performance. I think winning the trophy is in a way my answer."

After taking a two-sets-to-love lead against Fritz, Djokovic suffered the oblique injury. He was forced to a decider by the American before eventually managing to advance. 

Djokovic said afterwards he had torn a muscle and may need to pull out of the tournament, although was unwilling to give too much away as the event went on. 

The 33-year-old, though, said after his win on Sunday that he had torn his abdominal oblique muscle. 

"It is a tear, a muscle tear, of the abdominal oblique muscle. I felt it right away when it happened against Fritz in the third round. That's what I said in the post-match interview. I was kind of guessing, but I felt just that it's a tear because of the snap and the way I felt after that," Djokovic said. 

"I know there's been a lot of speculation, people questioning whether I'm injured, how can I recover so quickly, it's impossible to do that. I get it. I mean, look, everyone is entitled for their own opinion, and everybody has the freedom and the right to say what they want, criticise others. I just felt like it was a bit unfair at times. But, hey, it's not the first nor the last time. 

"What we have done in the past nine, 10 days, you'll get a chance to see in detail probably at the end of this year when the documentary comes out.   

"I've been filming a lot of things that I've been doing here, but also in the previous months, six months. We're planning to take that documentary out end of this year. You will be able to see more of the routine of recovery, stuff that was going on behind the curtain."

Daniil Medvedev entered the Australian Open final in red-hot form and with a strong recent record against Novak Djokovic – yet he still fell well short.

Djokovic's record-extending ninth Australian Open title and 18th major overall came in comprehensive fashion with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 thrashing of Medvedev at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak that included 12 victories over top-10 players, including Djokovic - who he had beaten in three of their previous four meetings. Still, the Russian was still dismantled.

Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have now won 10 of the past 11 grand slams. The other was Dominic Thiem's success last year at the US Open, where Djokovic stunningly defaulted in the fourth round and Nadal and Roger Federer were absent.

The 'Big Four' became the 'Big Three' following Andy Murray's injury woes, and that may now be the 'Big Two'.

Federer shares the men's grand slam record with Nadal on 20, but the last of those for the Swiss great came in 2018 and the 39-year-old has missed the past three majors.

Djokovic, 33, and Nadal, 34, have shown few signs of slowing down. With the Serbian dominating in Melbourne and the Spaniard continuing to own Roland Garros, they seem to have at least one grand slam each locked away every year.

After his loss on Sunday, Medvedev said of the trio of greats: "Nothing else to say than they are undoubtedly, I don't think anyone can argue with this, the three biggest names in tennis history. I'm talking only about results. I'm not talking off court, game. I'm talking about results. What they did in tennis is unbelievable for me.

"I'm 25 now. To win nine Australian Opens, I need to win every year until I'm 34. I mean, I believe in myself, but I don't think I'm able to do it. Same with Rafa. I mean, 13 Roland Garros... We're talking about some cyborgs of tennis in a good way. They're just unbelievable.

"When I'm out there, I'm not thinking, 'Okay, they are too strong for me.' I always want to win. I beat some of them in some big tournaments, like London [the ATP Finals] for example. I just need to be better next time in the grand slam finals against these two guys or Roger."

Thiem took his chance and landed a major at Flushing Meadows, while he has shaped as the most likely successor to Nadal in Paris, where he lost finals in 2018 and 2019. Medvedev has found his rhythm and Sunday's defeat was his second in a major decider.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2020 US Open runner-up Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini look like potential threats, while Canadian pair Denis Shapovalov, 21, and Felix Auger-Aliassime, 20, continue improving.

But Medvedev looked more than capable of ending Djokovic's incredible record in Melbourne before falling well short, showing potential challengers they still have a way to go if they are to finally stop the all-time greats.

Daniil Medvedev rued a below-par performance after his Australian Open final loss to Novak Djokovic.

In his second grand slam decider, Medvedev was well beaten 7-5 6-2 6-2 by Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday, seeing his 20-match winning streak ended.

Medvedev had his chances against the world number one, but Djokovic stepped up in key moments to win a record-extending ninth Australian Open title.

The Russian fourth seed felt his performance was average in the final as he mixed 24 winners with 30 unforced errors.

"I don't like to lose matches. Doesn't matter if it's a first round or a final of a grand slam. Of course, it's just that feeling that you're closer to hold the trophy than when you lose the first round," Medvedev told a news conference.

"Talking about the match, it's tough, just when you lost to reconsider straightaway. But I feel like it's the kind of matches I won throughout this tournament that he won today.

" I was there in the first set, I was up a break in the second, but in the end I lost in three sets where I didn't play bad but I didn't play my best level. Probably he made his game that good today that I couldn't stay at my best level.

"Yeah, I obviously thought about [Andrey] Rublev and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, both amazing top-10 players, and I won with a similar score where they were playing good, but I felt like I was better. So today was the case for Novak.

"I cannot say much better than this. He was better than me today. I could have done things for sure better today, but I didn't manage to. That's why I don't have the trophy."

Medvedev recovered from 3-0 down to draw level in the first set before being broken in the 12th game, while he gave up a break lead in the second.

The 25-year-old was unsure whether his performance was down to a bad day, or Djokovic's display.

"That's where it's tough to say because I don't know 100 per cent. I feel like I for sure could have played better. Especially looking at the matches where I played him," Medvedev said.

"At the same time there is always a question maybe he was not that good the other matches I played him because it's always day by day. You know the question is how did he manage to win here nine times out of nine? Probably all the nine times he was better than his opponent.

"I don't have an answer to this question. He definitely was good. I definitely could have done better. But even if I would have done better, doesn't mean that the score would be different.

"Today we have this score. I'm the loser; he's the winner. That's the point."

Daniil Medvedev was gracious in defeat to an inspired Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open final on Sunday.

A contest billed as a potential classic was over in one hour and 53 minutes as Djokovic claimed a ninth title in Melbourne and 18th career major.

The world number one, who lost to Medvedev at the ATP Finals last year, triumphed 7-5 6-2 6-2 to extend his record to nine victories and zero defeats in the final of this tournament and close to within two grand slams of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Medvedev was disappointed he could not prolong the contest but had nothing but praise for Djokovic on and off the court, a player he described as "a god to me".

The Russian said: "I first practiced with Novak when I was like 500 or 600 in the world in Monaco and he was already number one, he'd just won Wimbledon. I thought, 'There's no way he's gonna speak to me.' The guy was a god to me.

"I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He's never changed, whether I'm 600 in the world or four in the world, he's always been a great sport and a great friend.

"I really wanted to make this match longer and more entertaining for you. Today was not the day."

Djokovic was similarly full of praise for Medvedev, who had been on a 20-match winning streak heading into the final.

The Serbian fully expects Medvedev to become a major winner in future, although he hopes to add a few more to his collection first.

"You're a class act, a great guy," Djokovic said. "We used to spend more time together. You're not calling me any more in the last few years! But it's nice you're thinking good things about me.

"I really like Daniil off the court, but on the court, he's definitely one of the toughest players I faced in my life. It's a matter of time before you're holding a grand slam, for sure, if you don't mind waiting a few years!"

After a difficult build-up to the tournament, in which Djokovic lobbied for an easing of certain restrictions on players forced to quarantine in hotels after arriving in Australia, he credited authorities for ensuring a smooth running of events in Melbourne.

"There are a lot mixed feelings about what happened in the last month or so, but I think in the end it was a successful tournament for everyone," he said.

"It wasn't easy, it was very challenging on many different levels, but they [Tennis Australia] should be proud of themselves for what they put together and allowing us to come to Australia.

"I'd like to thank the Rod Laver Arena. I love you each year more and more. The love affair keeps going."

Novak Djokovic continued his dominance of the Australian Open, winning the grand slam for a record ninth time on Sunday.

The Serbian star claimed his 18th grand slam crown with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 dismantling of Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Djokovic became just the second man to win a major at least nine times, with only Rafael Nadal (13 French Open titles) also managing that feat.

We take a look back at all of his Australian Open successes.

2008 – A maiden grand slam title

Aged 20, this was Djokovic's fourth main-draw appearance in Melbourne and his previous best had been the fourth round the year prior.

But he produced a flying run to the final, beating Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets in the last 16 and top seed Federer in the semis.

Djokovic, the third seed, was left with a surprise opponent in the final and he made the most of his chance, coming from a set down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

It was the first grand slam since the 2005 Australian Open not won by either Federer or Nadal.

2011 – The beginning of complete Melbourne dominance

Djokovic had to wait three years for his second title in Melbourne, but it started a wonderful run of dominance.

He was largely untouchable again on his way to the final, including wins over top-10 seeds Tomas Berdych and Federer.

Djokovic crushed Andy Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3 in the decider to win the first of an incredible three grand slams in 2011.

 

2012 – Coming through two epics

This would be a major best remembered for two matches – Djokovic's semi and final.

He took almost five hours to get past Murray in the last four in a match that seemed certain to ruin his chances in the decider.

Somehow, Djokovic came through that too, beating Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 in the longest Open Era grand slam final, which went for a gruelling five hours, 53 minutes.

2013 – Hat-trick complete

Djokovic extended his winning streak at the Australian Open to 21 matches with a third straight title.

He became the first man in the Open Era to win a hat-trick of titles in Melbourne.

Djokovic took five hours to get past Stan Wawrinka – the man who would break his run the following year – in the fourth round before again beating Murray in a final.

 

2015 – Another Wawrinka marathon, another Murray final

Fernando Verdasco and Milos Raonic were unable to stop Djokovic and, this time, Wawrinka failed too.

Djokovic beat the Swiss star in a five-set semi-final before a familiar face stood between him and another title.

Murray managed to split the first two sets, but Djokovic ran away with it from there 6-3 6-0 for a fifth crown.

2016 ­– Record equalled after Simon scare

It was the fourth round that proved to be the biggest scare in Djokovic's bid for a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title.

But he got through another gruelling five-setter, this time against French 14th seed Gilles Simon.

Kei Nishikori, Federer and Murray were unable to stop him from there as Djokovic joined Roy Emerson on six Australian Open crowns.
 

2019 – Record claimed in flawless fashion

For a six-time champion and the world number one, this seemed like a quiet run by Djokovic.

He dispatched of up-and-comers Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev, spent less than an hour on court with an exhausted Nishikori and was almost flawless against Lucas Pouille.

Only Nadal stood between him and a record seventh Australian Open title in a repeat of their epic 2012 final.

And Djokovic may have saved his best performance for the final, dismantling Nadal in just over two hours.

2020 – Thiem test survived to close in on Federer, Nadal

Djokovic entered the tournament on the back of six impressive singles wins at the ATP Cup.

After a brief first-round hiccup against Jan-Lennard Struff, Djokovic cruised into the quarter-finals.

He continued his dominance of Milos Raonic with a 10th win in as many meetings with the Canadian and then brushed a hurt Federer aside.

Thiem, playing his third major final, was a huge test, but Djokovic survived after almost four hours to extend his record in Melbourne. It was his 17th major title, moving closer to the tallies of Federer (20) and Nadal (19), as he reclaimed the number one ranking.

2021 – Injury threatens run before powerful finish

It was a largely uneventful start for Djokovic before suffering a suspected abdominal injury in the third round against Taylor Fritz.

He looked at risk of defeat despite taking the first two sets as Fritz fought back, but Djokovic looked healthy again in the fifth to win through.

Djokovic beat Raonic for the 12th straight time and then overcame Alexander Zverev, before finding good form in a semi-final thrashing of qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

He dropped five sets in his opening six matches, the most he has lost prior to the final in the 28 occasions he has made the decider at a slam.

Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak heading into the final, but Djokovic stepped up on the court he loves.

Novak Djokovic secured his 18th grand slam title with a resounding straight-sets win over Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final on Sunday.

The Serbian star closed to within two major crowns of men's record holders Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after impressively beating Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 in one hour, 53 minutes in cool conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic, who suffered a suspected abdominal injury earlier in the tournament, showed just why he is the king of Melbourne, where he clinched a record-extending ninth Australian Open title.

The world number one produced a classic display of returning and again stepped up in key moments, in contrast to Medvedev.

Carrying a 20-match winning streak into the decider, Medvedev – playing his second grand slam final – made errors at important stages despite holding his own from the baseline for large parts against an opponent he had beaten in three of their previous four meetings.

Medvedev made a nervous and wayward start and was broken in the second game, but he quickly responded, pulling the break back in the fifth game, one marked by a grinding baseline exchange at 15-30 before Djokovic put an overhead into the net.

Both players held with relative comfort until Djokovic landed the key blow to take the first set, the Serbian fans in Rod Laver Arena rising to their feet after Medvedev sent a forehand into the net.

The pair traded breaks again to begin the second set, this time Djokovic recovering from dropping serve, and he won four straight games after Medvedev faltered in a sloppy fourth game.

Djokovic produced a tough hold for 5-2, a moment that led to an increasingly frustrated Medvedev – struggling to come up with answers – to smash his racquet at the back of the court before losing the second set.

Medvedev squandered another chance as Djokovic dug himself out of a 15-40 hole in the opening game of the third set and then broke, the Russian netting a volley after a wild double fault.

In yet another key moment, Djokovic held from 15-30 in the seventh game in front of a crowd baying for more tennis, before going on to see out his historic success.

 

Data Slam: History for the king of Melbourne

Djokovic's ninth Australian Open title saw him become just the second man to win a major at least nine times. He joined Nadal, who has owned the French Open with 13 titles. That pair have won 10 of the past 11 grand slam crowns, as the 'Big Three', or 'Big Two', continue their dominance.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 20/17
Medvedev – 24/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 3/2
Medvedev – 6/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 7/11
Medvedev – 2/4

Daniil Medvedev goes into Sunday's Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic in incredible form.

The Russian star extended his winning streak to 20 matches with a straight-sets victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals on Friday.

Medvedev became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20 matches. He is the sixth active player to manage the feat, joining Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro.

The 25-year-old's run has not only been utterly dominant, but also included some rather impressive wins.

Of his 20 victories, 12 have come against top-10 players, including Djokovic. Since November, Medvedev has beaten every other member of the top 10 except Federer, who has been out of action.

"It's great to know this. It's a pity that Roger is not playing. I would love to have played him. I'm not saying anything. I just would love to play against him. I mean, to play against Roger is always a privilege. Against Novak, Rafa, Roger," Medvedev said after his win over Tsitsipas.

"But it's great to hear this. I mean, happy about myself, because I remember one moment when I was already playing quite good I actually was struggling with the top-10 guys when I was maybe around top 20 or top 30.

"It's great to hear this and I'm really happy about it."

Along with Djokovic and Nadal, Medvedev's run has also included wins over Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev (three times), Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini and Tsitsipas.

In his 20-match streak, Medvedev has won 44 sets and lost just seven, and two of those were in his five-set victory over Filip Krajinovic in the third round.

Medvedev has won three of his past four meetings with Djokovic, who edges their overall head-to-head 4-3.

His run will have Medvedev full of confidence as he bids to win a first grand slam title, needing to overcome the record eight-time champion in Melbourne to do so.

Novak Djokovic will take the advantage of having an extra day's rest into the Australian Open final against the red-hot Daniil Medvedev.

Djokovic is set to compete in his 28th grand slam final and ninth in Melbourne as the Serbian star eyes an 18th major title on Sunday.

The 33-year-old looked in good form in a semi-final thrashing of Aslan Karatsev on Thursday – 24 hours before Medvedev impressively dispatched of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

For the second year in a row, Djokovic will have an extra day's rest over his opponent ahead of the decider.

Since 2000, players who have had the extra day's rest have won 12 and lost nine of the 21 finals. Djokovic has had the slight advantage four times – and four times he has not – and won all eight finals.

Given he has battled a suspected abdominal injury at this year's tournament, the additional day could be an important factor for Djokovic.

He faces Medvedev, who is on a 20-match winning streak that has included 12 victories over top-10 players.

The latest of those was a 6-4 6-2 7-5 mauling of Tsitsipas in their semi-final on Friday.

A key for Medvedev in that success, in which he endured a third-set blip, was that it came in two hours, nine minutes.

Since 2000, men who won the second semi-final in less than three hours are 6-5 in deciders. That record drops to 3-7 when the last-four clash has exceeded three hours.

Of the three that have managed it after marathon wins, Djokovic achieved it twice – in 2012 and 2015, while Rafael Nadal was the other in 2009, when he beat Roger Federer in the final after winning an epic against Fernando Verdasco.

It leaves the extra day's rest likely to be less of a factor on Sunday as both men chase history.

Entering Australian Open final with an extra day's rest since 2000
2020: Novak Djokovic (won against Dominic Thiem)
2019: Rafael Nadal (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2018: Marin Cilic (lost against Roger Federer)
2017: Roger Federer (won against Rafael Nadal)
2016: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2015: Andy Murray (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2014: Stan Wawrinka (won against Rafael Nadal)
2013: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2012: Rafael Nadal (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2011: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2010: Andy Murray (lost against Roger Federer)
2009: Roger Federer (lost against Rafael Nadal)
2008: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2007: Roger Federer (won against Fernando Gonzalez)
2006: Marcos Baghdatis (lost against Roger Federer)
2005: Marat Safin (won against Lleyton Hewitt)
2004: Marat Safin (lost against Roger Federer)
2003: Andre Agassi (won against Rainer Schuttler)
2002: Thomas Johansson (won against Marat Safin)
2001: Andre Agassi (won against Arnaud Clement)
2000: Andre Agassi (won against Yevgeny Kafelnikov)
Wins: 12 Losses: 9

Daniil Medvedev believes he has "nothing to lose" in Sunday's Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic.

Medvedev reached his second grand slam decider after an impressive 6-4 6-2 7-5 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in their last-four clash in Melbourne on Friday.

The Russian fourth seed became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20 as he continued his incredible form.

Medvedev said in an on-court interview all the pressure in the final would be on Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open a record eight times.

Despite seeking his maiden grand slam crown, the 25-year-old – who has won three of his past four meetings with Djokovic – said he had nothing to lose in the final.

"I think he's the favourite because he didn't lose. In eight occasions that he was here in the semis he won the tournament. Me, I'm, how you can call it, I don't know how you call it in English, not an outsider, but I'm the challenger, the guy that challenges the guy who was eight times in the final and won eight times. And I'm happy about it," Medvedev told a news conference.

"I like to play against Novak. We have, since the first one when I was ranked 60, we had always tough matches physically, mentally. And he's one of the greatest tennis players in the history of tennis. So playing the final against him is superb. I'm really happy about it. Let's see what happens on Sunday.

"When I say no pressure, for sure when we get out there we both feel pressure. I want to win my first one. He wants to win number 18. We don't know for who the crowd is going to be. It's all the small details.

"I think if we talk in general, well, I have nothing to lose, to be honest."

Medvedev hit 46 winners and 21 unforced errors against Tsitsipas, overcoming a third-set blip to close out his victory.

As the Rod Laver Arena crowd attempted to get Tsitsipas back into the contest, Medvedev claimed a key break in the 11th game of the third set with a tremendous backhand pass down the line, which he celebrated with a dance.

"They [the crowd] were mostly for him, and that was, you know, the moment that I won the match, we should say. Of course you have to serve after, but that was important moment. So I wanted them to recognise me, I would say, because the shot was unbelievable, I think one of my best shots in my career," Medvedev said.

"Actually, my legs were facing the other way of the court because I didn't have time, so I have no idea how I made this, and I was really happy about it."

Novak Djokovic believes he is peaking at the perfect time at the Australian Open after feeling the best he has all tournament in the semi-finals.

Djokovic brushed past Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday, reaching his ninth decider in Melbourne.

The Serbian has won the tournament every time he has been to the semi-finals, although worries over a suspected abdominal injury had cast doubt over his ability to win an 18th major title on Sunday.

But Djokovic, who has refused to detail the extent of his injury, said he was hitting top form at the right time ahead of facing either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

"Well, first I want to give credit to Karatsev for a great tournament.  Maybe it wasn't his day today but he had big wins and debut, first grand slam semi-finals. Kudos for a great result," he told a news conference.

"I felt the best I felt so far in the tournament tonight. Physically, mentally, as well. I was hitting the ball very well, mixing the pace. Didn't give him the same looks at all. Always kind of kept him guessing and served well when I needed to get out of the trouble, you know, late in the second set. I'm just very pleased with the performance.

"It came at the right time. Before the last match in a grand slam, couldn't be a better timing for me to play my best tennis. But being in this situation before many times I think helps kind of gather all the necessary elements for me to peak at the right time, which is happening again, which I'm obviously very happy about.

"I'm also happy that I have two days off now. Still recovery is the priority.  I've played enough tennis. I'm feeling great on the court. Regardless of who I face on Sunday, I'm ready for the battle for the toughest match of the tournament, without a doubt."

As Djokovic prepares for his 28th grand slam final, he will face either Medvedev in his second or Tsitsipas in his first.

Djokovic said his incredible record at the Australian Open lifted his confidence, and potentially played on the minds of his opponents.

"Well, of course it contributes to more confidence, prior to coming into the finals knowing that I never lost in the finals or semi-finals just makes me feel more comfortable being on the court," he said.

"But each year is different, although it does have a mental effect on me, maybe on my opponents, I don't know, but on me it does definitely have a positive effect. It's not a decisive factor in the way the match is going to go forward, because as I said, each year is different. Surface is also different. You know, you play against also different opponents. So that's not gonna be decisive factor I think on Sunday.

"Regardless of my great record I think both Tsitsipas and Medvedev will want to get their first grand slam title. I'm sure that they are going to do their best, so I'll be ready for that."

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