Djokovic wins a record-extending ninth Australian Open
A tournament that had to contend with many uncertainties due to the Covid-19 induced pandemic finally saw Novak Djokovic remaining an unbreakable force as he thrashed Daniil Medvedev to claim a record-extending ninth Australian Open title on Sunday.
The world No. 1’s 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 triumph under the lights at Rod Laver Arena secured his 18th Grand Slam title, bringing him within tantalising reach of Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal’s all-time men’s record of 20.
Much like Dominic Thiem in last year’s final, Djokovic faced an opponent desperate for success and his own seat at the Grand Slam table.
Unlike Thiem, who pushed Djokovic to five sets, Medvedev never really threatened in his second Grand Slam final. Djokovic made a mockery of the Russian’s 20-match winning streak and his pre-match barb that all the pressure to win was on the champion. He broke him seven times for the match and closed out the one-sided contest with a net-rush and a brilliant leaping volley.
Having extended his unbeaten record in nine finals at Melbourne Park, the Serb roared in triumph and wrapped up his team in a group hug. After acknowledging Medvedev’s congratulations, Djokovic thanked the blue centre court during the trophy ceremony.
“I would like to thank Rod Laver Arena. I love you each year more and more. It’s been a love affair that keeps growing. Thank you so much,” he said. Djokovic now has won six Grand Slam titles after the age of 30, equalling Nadal’s record.
Play was suspended briefly in the second set, after a protester yelled “free the refugees” repeatedly during play before being ejected to cheers from the crowd. As Djokovic marched on to a 5-2 lead, Medvedev smashed his racket in fury.
Worse was to come as Medvedev started the third by being broken twice in succession, a weak volley into the net handing Djokovic a 3-0 lead. Holding to 5-2 after an epic rally, Djokovic went to his chair with a pointed tap at his temple and an icy gaze at the Russian.
In a thrilling match point, Djokovic raced around the court before ending up at the net where he leapt high to smash a lob past the Russian and claim his second hat-trick of titles at Melbourne Park, after his 2011-13 treble.
“I really like Daniil as a person. On the court, 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, if you don’t mind waiting a few more years,” he said.
Slovakian Filip Polasek won his first Grand Slam title a day after his second daughter was born. The 35-year-old and Ivan Dodig defeated defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-3, 6-4 for the men’s doubles crown.