Novak Djokovic’s mastery of Melbourne Park continues, with the super Serb adding a record-extending ninth Australian Open crown to his rapidly growing grand slam collection.
The world No.1 crushed Daniil Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 in Sunday night’s final to edge to within two majors of the men’s all-time record of 20 shared by tennis titans Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The 33-year-old is only the second man ever to claim nine titles at the same slam, joining his great rival Nadal, who owns an eye-watering 13 French Open trophies, after snapping Medvedev’s 20-match winning streak in merciless fashion.
Medvedev had been undefeated since last October and beat Djokovic in three of the pair’s previous four meetings.
But the Russian was no match for Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena, where the relentless Serb remains unconquered in nine finals and 42 outings as world No.1.
“I would like to thank this court. I would like to thank Rod Laver Arena. I love you each year more and more,” the champion said.
“It’s been a love affair that keeps growing. Thank you so much.”
Djokovic will surpass Federer’s record 310 weeks as world No.1 next month and it seems inevitable he’ll also move past the superstar Swiss on the majors leaderboard as he, Federer and Nadal continue to jostle for all-time greatest status.
Incredibly, Federer had amassed 12 slams before Djokovic won his first at the 2008 Australian Open – and 16 before the Serb snared his second at Melbourne Park three years later.
Now Djokovic could conceivably eclipse Federer’s tally this year.
Contesting his 28th grand slam final, Djokovic opened Sunday’s match with an ace, held comfortably and then immediately broke Medvedev in the second game en route to charging to a 3-0 lead inside nine minutes.
The top seed looked in total control, only to make a brace of uncharacteristic errors to find himself double break-point down in the fifth game.
Two skyscraper defensive lobs from metres behind the baseline from Medvedev induced another error from Djokovic and suddenly the set was locked back up at 3-3.
But, as champion’s often do, Djokovic raised his game to break his Monte Carlo neighbour just as the set seemed headed to a tiebreaker, Medvedev finding the net with a meek forehand on set point.
Russia’s fourth seed gained an early break in the second, but then surrendered four straight games and obliterated his racquet in frustration as Djokovic motored to 5-2 lead, then a commanding two-set lead.
The third set was one-way traffic as Djokovic completed the comprehensive victory in just one hour and 53 minutes, the quickest grand slam final of his celebrated career.
The top seed was gracious in victory.
“He’s definitely one of the toughest players that I ever faced in my life. It’s a matter of time when you hold a grand slam, that’s for sure,” Djokovic said of his vanquished rival, who also lost his only previous major final to Nadal at the 2019 US Open.
“I would like everyone just to once more appreciate what he has done – 20-match winning streak in the last couple of months. Amazing.”
Djokovic also lauded Open boss Craig Tiley and Tennis Australia for even staging the Open during the global pandemic.
“There are a lot of mixed feelings about what has happened in the last month or so with tennis players coming to Australia,” he said.
“But I think when we draw a line in the end it was a successful tournament for organisers.
“I want to congratulate the head of Tennis Australia Craig Tiley for making an effort. They did make a great effort.
“It wasn’t easy. It was very challenging on many different levels. But they should be proud.”