Novak Djokovic gets Daniil Medvedev in Australian Open final

Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev
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Novak Djokovic chases one record and looks to extend one of his own in Sunday’s Australian Open final.

Djokovic, already the only player with eight Australian Open titles in the Open Era, goes for No. 9 against fourth-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev.

The top-ranked Serbian also bids to reel in Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who share the overall male major titles record of 20.

Djokovic is at 17, but is a year younger than Nadal (who lost in the quarterfinals) and six years younger than Federer (who, after two knee surgeries, missed a third consecutive Slam).

Djokovic is most comfortable at Rod Laver Arena, where he’s 17-0 in semifinals and finals.

“The more I win, the better I feel coming back each year,” he said. “I think it’s kind of also logical to expect that. The love affair keeps going.”

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Over the last week, he overcame what he called a tear in his abdominal area to beat American Taylor Fritz there in a third-round five-setter, then Canadian Milos Raonic, German Alexander Zverev and 114th-ranked Russan qualifier Aslan Karatsev in Thursday’s semifinal.

“Definitely had to stretch myself to the limit in the last five days in every sense, but I’m really pleased that in terms of injury and everything it’s going in the right direction,” he said after dispatching Karatsev, noting he felt no pain.

Medvedev, a wiry, 25-year-old Russian who plays Chess and PlayStation, reached his second major final by sweeping fifth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in Friday’s semifinal.

He is on a 20-match win streak dating to October (including 12 wins over top-10 foes) and, at No. 4 in the world, is the highest-ranked man without a major title.

“I like that I don’t have a lot of pressure,” against Djokovic, Medvedev said. “It’s him who has all the pressure, getting to Roger and Rafa in the Grand Slams.”

Djokovic called him “the player to beat” before the Tsitsipas match.

“He ended out the season best possible fashion,” Djokovic said, referencing November’s ATP Finals, where he lost to Djokovic for the third time in their last four meetings. “I mean, winning quite comfortably, actually, against top players, against myself in straight sets in London, and he just has improved a lot.”

But Medvedev must still prove himself on this stage.

Djokovic beat him in four sets in the 2019 Australian Open. Later that year, Medvedev succumbed in an epic U.S. Open final to Nadal that lasted five sets and nearly five hours.

“It’s experience. It was my first Grand Slam final against one of the greatest,” said Medvedev, bidding to become the youngest man to win a Slam since Djokovic at the 2011 U.S. Open. “Sunday, I’m going to come against one of the other greatest.”

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