Faced with one of the toughest challenges in the sport, Daniil Medvedev will lock horns with the defending champion Novak Djokovic at the 2021 Australian Open final.
Having reached the Australian Open final eight times, Djokovic has triumphed on each occasion, which explains the daunting task ahead of Medvedev.
Despite suffering from an abdominal tear midway in the tournament, Djokovic overcame the pain barrier and found his best tennis in the semifinals, defeating Aslan Karatsev in straight sets.
At the other end, Medvedev is riding on an impressive 20-match winning streak, with 12 of those wins coming against Top-1o players.
Having played one Grand Slam final before at the 2019 US Open, Medvedev has some experience of the pressure it brings.
With Medvedev aiming to win his maiden Grand Slam title, here’s what he needs to do to defeat the most successful man in Australian Open history, Novak Djokovic.
Medvedev has served impeccably throughout the tournament and hammered 17 aces during his semifinal win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Up against the best returner in the game, the No.4 seed needs to keep his first serve percentage high as Djokovic will look to attack Medvedev’s second serve.
The Russian will have to shift his serve placement and use the body serve effectively to keep Djokovic guessing. Going into the final, winning a high percentage of first-serve points will be crucial for Medvedev.
Notably, Djokovic has served equally well and his powerful serve has helped him win a lot of free points. For Medvedev, it will be important to return deep into the court and hit harder to reduce Djokovic’s reaction time.
Any return which lands in the service box will be a treat for Djokovic, as he will punish the ball by picking it early and hitting a wide-angled winner.
Here’s the hardest task, to outlast Djokovic, Medvedev will have to battle him from the back of the court. In order to do so, Medvedev should play closer to the baseline and use his powerful flat backhand to move Djokovic around the court.
To disrupt Djokovic’s rhythm, Medvedev should use the slice backhand and drop shots to his advantage and shorten the rallies by coming to the net more often.
Medvedev’s unconventional shot-making and stamina to indulge in long rallies make him a fierce competitor. Apart from the game, Medvedev will have to keep his nerves in control and play with composure.
Having beaten Djokovic thrice in their seven meetings, Medvedev possesses the game to trouble Djokovic. However, with an 8-0 record in Australian Open finals, Djokovic is the clear favorite.