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Top Seed Schwartzman Eyes Revenge In Tricky Cordoba Draw

  • Posted: Feb 20, 2021

There were seven Argentinian players in the Cordoba Open main draw, and all but two have landed in Diego Schwartzman’s half as he learned his tough road to a fourth ATP Tour title on Monday.

Schwartzman, who reached the final here last year, is the top seed at his home tournament. Should he advance through the top quarter, he could face countrymen Guido Pella, the No. 4 seed, or No. 8 seed Federico Delbonis in the semi-finals. Pella, who knocked out Schwartzman in the 2019 quarter-finals here, and Delbonis anchor the second quarter, which also features local wild card Nicolas Kicker.

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The World No. 9 is into the second round with a bye, and could face a rematch of last year’s Cordoba quarter-final with No. 5 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas landing in the Argentine’s quarter once again. Schwartzman defeated Ramos-Vinolas in a roller-coaster 6-0, 7-6(0) victory to extend his ATP Head2Head dominance over the Spaniard to 5-0. 

But before Ramos-Vinolas can think about contesting a third quarter-final in Argentina (also 2019 Buenos Aires) against Schwartzman, he will have to handle another home favourite in the first round. He will begin his Cordoba campaign against Juan Ignacio Londero, who lifted his lone ATP Tour title at the inaugural 2019 edition.

Frenchman Benoit Paire is the No. 2 seed, leading the bottom quarter and eyeing a potential clash with No. 6 seed Dominik Koepfer in the quarter-finals. Two wild cards including former World No. 38 Nicolas Jarry, an ATP Tour titlist from Chile, have also landed in Paire’s quarter.

Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic leads a tricky third quarter as the No. 3 seed in Cordoba, looking for his second ATP Tour title. He could get #NextGenATP Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild in the second round. The 20-year-old is also looking to double his trophy count after winning the 2020 Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago.

No. 7 seed Thiago Monteiro is also in Kecmanovic’s section. The Brazilian is among the players aiming to become Cordoba’s third consecutive South American champion, after Chilean Cristian Garin’s victory in 2020.

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How Medvedev Compiled His 20-Match Win Streak

  • Posted: Feb 20, 2021

With his dominant semi-final victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev not only reached his first Australian Open final, he also joined an exclusive club.

The Russian followed in the footsteps of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro as only the sixth active player to claim 20 consecutive tour-level wins. Medvedev has triumphed at three events during his winning streak — the Rolex Paris Masters, the Nitto ATP Finals and the ATP Cup — and is now one win away from his maiden Grand Slam title.

One of the most impressive aspects of Medvedev’s winning run has been the level of opposition he has had to overcome to keep his run alive. Across his 20 wins, the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion has defeated 12 Top 10 opponents. Since 2000, only three other players have compiled winning streaks of 12 or more matches against the Top 10. Their names? Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

Longest Tour-Level Top 10 Win Streaks (Since 2000)

Rank Player Wins Time Span
1 Roger Federer 24 2003-2005
T2 Roger Federer 17 2006-2007
Novak Djokovic 17 2015-2016
4 Novak Djokovic 14 2012-2013
T5 Rafael Nadal 13 2005-2006
Novak Djokovic 13 2011
Rafael Nadal 13 2012-2013
Rafael Nadal 13 2013
Novak Djokovic 13 2013
T10 Rafael Nadal 12 2008
Novak Djokovic 12 2014-2015
Novak Djokovic 12 2015
Daniil Medvedev 12 2020-2021

Medvedev will need to add a 13th Top 10 win to his streak if he is to capture the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup on Sunday. The 25-year-old will aim to become the first player to defeat World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in an Australian Open final (8-0).

Ahead of his second Grand Slam final, takes a look back at the 2019 US Open runner-up’s 20-match winning run.

2020 Rolex Paris Masters
Top 10 Wins: 2
Following a quarter-final loss to Kevin Anderson at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Medvedev returned to action the following week at the Rolex Paris Masters seeking his first title in 13 months.

The Moscow native moved past Anderson and Alex de Minaur to reach the quarter-finals, where he defeated World No. 9 Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-1. Following another straight-sets win against Milos Raonic in the semi-finals, Medvedev faced the man he defeated to win his most recent title at the 2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters: World No. 7 Alexander Zverev.

Zverev entered the championship match in top form, with 12 consecutive wins and back-to-back titles in Cologne to his name. The German took the first set in the French capital, but Medvedev stormed back to claim his third ATP Masters 1000 trophy with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 comeback victory.

“Before the tournament, I was not in my best form, playing not so bad with zero finals this year,” said Medvedev. “I was complaining to my wife like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t have the level. I don’t even have one final. I am playing so bad.’ Finally, I am the winner of Bercy, a tournament that I love.”

2020 Nitto ATP Finals
Top 10 Wins: 5
In his second straight appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, Medvedev went 5-0 to capture the biggest trophy of his career. The World No. 4 shocked Djokovic with a dominant 6-3, 6-3 victory and repeated Paris wins against Schwartzman and Zverev to top Group Tokyo 1970.

In the semi-finals, Medvedev survived the biggest scare of his winning run. In a repeat of the 2019 US Open final, Nadal held a commanding lead. The 20-time Grand Slam champion served for a straight-sets victory at 6-3, 5-4, but Medvedev capitalised on uncharacteristic errors from his opponent and turned the match in his favour. Nadal was aiming to record his 72nd straight win in matches where he claimed the first set, but Medvedev ended that run with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory; his first ATP Head2Head triumph against Nadal (1-3).

With wins over the Top 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings en route to the championship match, Medvedev made history in his first final at The O2. The Russian recovered from a set down for the second straight match to defeat World No. 3 Dominic Thiem 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 and take the trophy. Medvedev is the only player to have defeated each member of the Top 3 in a single edition of the Nitto ATP Finals.

“I think it was the toughest victory in my life because Dominic is a really tough player to play. I think he was at his best,” Medvedev said. “Maybe it’s not the case, but that’s what I felt during the match. He was really close to winning it [in the] second set. I managed to stay there.”

2021 ATP Cup
Top 10 Wins: 3
After a well-deserved break, Medvedev carried his 2020 momentum into 2021 at the ATP Cup. As the No. 1 singles player for Russia, the three-time ATP Masters 1000 champion defeated Kei Nishikori and claimed his third wins in as many tournaments against Schwartzman and Zverev to reach the final.

Following countryman Andrey Rublev’s triumph against Fabio Fognini, Medvedev clinched his nation’s first ATP Cup crown with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini. The Italian had not dropped a set en route to the final, but he could not stop Medvedev from breaking serve on three occasions to clinch the trophy for Russia.

“It’s a really big achievement because I also didn’t lose a match [in my last] 10 matches against Top 10 opponents… It’s a big boost in confidence,” Medvedev said.

2021 Australian Open
Top 10 Wins: 2
Aside from a five-set battle against 28th seed Filip Krajinovic in the third round, Medvedev has not dropped a set en route to his second Grand Slam final. Prior to the quarter-finals, the Russian also earned wins against Vasek Pospisil, Roberto Carballes Baena and Mackenzie McDonald.

To reach the final, Medvedev added two more Top 10 wins to his collection. The nine-time ATP Tour titlist beat ATP Cup teammate and World No. 8 Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarter-finals and World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in the semi-finals.

Medvedev enters his eighth ATP Head2Head encounter against Djokovic with a 3-4 record. If he can level that record at 4-4 on Sunday, he will become the youngest man to win a Grand Slam singles title since his opponent’s epic 2012 triumph at this event.

Medvedev has been tested throughout his 20-match winning run, but if he is to extend his undefeated streak, he will need to pass a test that no player has managed to overcome so far. Can he become the first player to defeat Djokovic in an Australian Open final?

“[Djokovic] is the favourite because… [in the] eight occasions that he was in the semi-finals, he won the tournament,” said Medvedev. “I’m the challenger, the guy that challenges the guy who was eight times in the final and won eight times. I’m happy about it.”

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Murray Handed Tough Start To Montpellier Debut

  • Posted: Feb 20, 2021

In his first ATP Tour event in four months, Andy Murray has landed in a packed section of the Open Sud de France draw in Montpellier.

Making his first tour-level appearance since last October’s bett1HULKS Indoors in Cologne, the former World No. 1 will open his campaign against Belarusian Egor Gerasimov. Murray will aim to build on a strong start to his 2021 season in Montpellier, following his run to the Biella Challenger Indoor 1 final last week (l. to Marchenko).

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The British wild card will compete in the third quarter of the ATP 250 draw, which features the only two players competing in Montpellier to have already lifted an ATP Tour title this year. Murray could meet Great Ocean Road Open champion Jannik Sinner in the second round, with Delray Beach Open by champion Hubert Hurkacz a potential quarter-final opponent.

Sinner, who fell in five sets to Denis Shapovalov in the Australian Open first round, is competing indoors for the first time since his maiden ATP Tour title run at the Sofia Open last November. The #NextGenATP Italian will meet Aljaz Bedene in his first match.

In the final quarter of the draw, second seed and two-time Montpellier semi-finalist David Goffin could face 2018 champion Lucas Pouille in his first match. Pouille will face countryman Benjamin Bonzi in the first round. Pouille is not the only past champion in this section. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2019 titlist, will meet #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda in one of the picks of the first-round matches.

In the top half of the draw, Roberto Bautista Agut and Dusan Lajovic lead the way. In his first Montpellier appearance since his tournament debut in 2012, Bautista Agut will open his title bid against Nikoloz Basilashvili or a qualifier. The Spaniard is joined in the top quarter of the draw by sixth seed Ugo Humbert, who captured two ATP Tour titles on hard courts in 2020.

Third seed Lajovic will meet Dennis Novak or home favourite Gilles Simon in his opening match. The Serbian shares the second quarter with eighth seed Jan-Lennard Struff, who will begin his third appearance in Montpellier against a qualifier.

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Ram/Krejcikova Claim Second Australian Open Mixed Doubles Crown

  • Posted: Feb 20, 2021

Rajeev Ram completed the first half of a potential Australian Open doubles double on Saturday, as he captured the mixed doubles title alongside Barbora Krejcikova on Rod Laver Arena.

Ram and Krejcikova claimed the trophy for the second time in three years with a 6-1, 6-4 victory against Aussie wild cards Matthew Ebden and Sam Stosur. The sixth seeds, who also lifted the trophy in 2019, converted four of six break points to clinch the title in 59 minutes.

Krejcikova has won the past three editions of the mixed doubles event at Melbourne Park. Last year, the Czech triumphed alongside Nikola Mektic of Croatia.

“I have to thank my partner. We had a year off as a team, but she didn’t have a year off and she won this thing last year. That’s three years running for her. Amazing job,” said Ram, during the trophy ceremony. “It was a pleasure to play with you, as always.”

The sixth seeds were almost eliminated in the second round. Ram and Krejcikova had to save a match point at 10/11 in a Match Tie-break to overcome Ben McLachlan and Ena Shibahara 6-4, 3-6, 13-11 for a place in the quarter-finals. Ram and Krejcikova dropped just one set en route to the title.

“They were pretty flawless,” said Ebden. “They hardly missed a ball, so congratulations and well done.”

Ram’s mixed doubles final victory keeps alive his hopes of completing the Australian Open doubles double. The American will attempt to capture his second straight men’s doubles title at Melbourne Park alongside Joe Salisbury on Sunday. The 2020 champions will meet ninth seeds Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek in the championship match.

Ebden and Stosur were both attempting to win the Australian Open mixed doubles trophy for the second time, following previous title runs with different partners. Ebden partnered Jarmila Wolfe to the title in 2013 and Stosur triumphed alongside Scott Draper in 2005.

“I’ve played Matt so many times. We’ve played on Tour together so many times and it is always a pleasure to play you,” said Ram. “[He is] a great player and Sam is obviously a legend of tennis and Australian tennis especially, so it was a real pleasure to share the court with you guys.”

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Cilic, Millman Land In Same Half Of Singapore Draw

  • Posted: Feb 20, 2021

Marin Cilic discovered his path to a 19th tour-level title on Saturday, following the Singapore Tennis Open draw.

The 2014 US Open champion is the third seed at the ATP 250, which is being held on a single-year licence at the 3,000-seater OCBC Arena inside the vast Singapore Sports Hub. Cilic, who is aiming to capture his ninth ATP Tour crown on indoor hard courts, will meet Taro Daniel or Ramkumar Ramanathan in his first match of the tournament.

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Cilic shares the third quarter of the draw with eighth seed Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea. The 32-year-old will attempt to capture his first trophy since the 2018 cinch Championships and move one step closer to joining the exclusive ’20 Club’.

Cilic is two titles away from becoming only the sixth active player to lift 20 tour-level crowns. Roger Federer (103), Rafael Nadal (86), Novak Djokovic (81), Andy Murray (46) and Juan Martin del Potro (22) are the only active players to win 20 or more tour-level events.

Also in the bottom half of the draw is second seed John Millman. The Aussie will try to double his ATP Tour trophy count with Singapore success. Last year’s Nur-Sultan titlist is joined in the fourth quarter by seventh seed Lloyd Harris of South Africa.

In the top half of the draw, Adrian Mannarino and Alexander Bublik lead the way. Top seed Mannarino will bid to reach his fourth ATP Tour final on indoor hard courts (0-3), while fourth seed Bublik will aim to go one step further than his runner-up finish at last month’s Antalya Open (l. to De Minaur). Mannarino shares the top quarter of the draw with sixth seed Radu Albot. Bublik is joined in the second quarter by fifth seed Yoshihito Nishioka.

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PotchOpen Ushers In New Era Of South African Tennis

  • Posted: Feb 20, 2021

On Tuesday, the North West University Potchefstroom was abuzz with excitement. An 18-year-old from South Africa was sending shockwaves through the tennis facility and across the ATP Challenger Tour.

The scene was set. It was an electric atmosphere on a perfect, sun-kissed afternoon in the university town of Potchefstroom. The youngest South African player in the FedEx ATP Rankings had just scored the biggest win of his burgeoning career.

“Let’s go!”, screamed Kholo Montsi. The teen let out a roar and repeatedly smacked his chest in triumph, as he earned his first victory on the Challenger circuit. An abundance of energy, enthusiasm and charisma were on full display as Montsi completed a 6-4, 6-1 victory over sixth seed Brayden Schnur.

Schnur is a former World No. 92, but his 18-year-old opponent was not intimidated. Far from it. As Montsi says, he relished this opportunity to test his talents on such a big stage.

“I was telling myself that I have nothing to lose,” Montsi reflected. “It was about using this opportunity and I went out there and started fighting. I’m very happy.”

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It was a valuable experience for South Africa’s rising star, as he embarks on his professional journey. Building confidence against the Challenger Tour’s top talents is critical for any young player, and that is exactly why Tennis South Africa invested in bringing the circuit back.

This month marks the return of the ATP Challenger Tour to South Africa, after an eight-year hiatus. Located less than two hours west of Johannesburg (the country’s largest city), Potchefstroom is a well-known university town in the North West Province. Last week, the PotchOpen I signaled the country’s first Challenger tournament since 2013. And this week, it is hosting the second of back-to-back Challenger 80 events. With the goal of putting the tennis-rich nation back on the map, they are establishing a new era in 2021. It all starts with providing their home grown talents with opportunities to mature and thrive.

South Africa has long played a significant role in the history of men’s professional tennis. The likes of Kevin Anderson, Kevin Curren, Wayne Ferreira and Johan Kriek reached the Top 5 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, while Byron Black, Wayne Black, Raven Klaasen and Kevin Ullyett cracked the Top 10 on the doubles circuit.

The country welcomed some of the game’s best for many years, hosting an ATP 250 event in Johannesburg until 2011. On the ATP Challenger Tour, the Soweto Open was held until 2013 at the historic Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre.


For Montsi, the Cape Town native is making strides since appearing at the 2020 ATP Cup as part of Team South Africa. It was there that he soaked in the world-class atmosphere and learned about life as a professional, while enjoying a front-row seat as his countrymen battled the likes of Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios.

Two of his ATP Cup teammates – Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse – are also in Potchefstroom, competing as the top seeds in doubles. For them, being able to return to their roots and inspire the next generation of South African players is essential.

“Coming up as a junior, you have big aspirations to compete at the top,” said Klaasen. “When you can see this level of tennis in front of you in your home country, it plants a seed for where you might go one day with your dreams. Getting this exposure is valuable for younger players.”

“For myself, it’s about leading by example,” added Roelofse. “To be professional on and off the court and make kids excited about tennis and want to be like us. This is what we’re trying to achieve.”

Tennis South Africa CEO Richard Glover sat down with to discuss the return of the ATP Challenger Tour and the future of the sport in his country…

What do you hope the impact of these Challenger tournaments will be, as South African tennis continues to grow and develop?
Over the decades, South Africa has always been a vibrant tennis nation. But, one of the biggest challenges has been our location. Geographically, we’re on the southern tip of Africa, so we’re a long way from the rest of the tennis world. That’s been a real issue for the growth of the sport in this country.

Being able to host back-to-back Challenger 80s, as we have done these past two weeks, is massive for men’s tennis in the country. Critically, it gives our up-and-coming rising stars the ability to play good quality international tennis in home conditions. That’s a big advantage and a really good stepping stone for our rising stars.

You look at someone like young Kholo Montsi, an 18-year-old we have high hopes for in the future. He won his first-round match here for his first ever ATP Challenger win. I think that’s a great example of a springboard for a young man who’s looking to make it as a professional player.

After so many years, how proud are you to have Challenger tennis back in South Africa?
At one stage, because of COVID, we weren’t sure if we could host these two back-to-back events. So it’s a bit of a relief to be able to do it. I think many people don’t understand the calibre and standard of tennis that’s played on the ATP Challenger Tour. These are some outstanding athletes competing at this level. I’ve been blown away by the quality of the tennis. There truly are some future stars here. These tournaments can launch the careers of not just South African players, but those from all over the globe as well. I’m very proud to have Challenger tennis back.

What is the long-term vision for tennis in South Africa and how do these tournaments play a role?
From a Tennis South Africa perspective, what we’re busy with at the moment is really trying to strengthen the foundations of the sport. That is, increasing participation. We’ve managed to bring several sponsors into the sport, which is important as we look to continue investing in tournaments. Obviously, hosting international tournaments is the fundamental building block.

I think, referring back to Kholo Montsi again, he’s made some news in South Africa after winning his first match on the ATP Challenger Tour. It’s great for a sport like tennis, as we’re competing against a lot of other sports for eyeballs and attention. But let’s not forget about someone like Raven Klaasen, who is a Top 20 ATP doubles player. Unfortunately, due to COVID he was unable to travel to the Australian Open, but he decided to support his local tennis and play in the Challenger which is fantastic. Overall, it’s been a very positive first step, but there’s a lot of hard work to do. We want to bring even more international events, even more ATP Challengers and ultimately an ATP 250 to the country. If and when we do that, I think we can really say that tennis in South Africa is back on the map.

How can these tournaments inspire other African nations to develop their tennis programs and enter the professional landscape?
There is so much untapped athletic potential in Africa. You see it in so many other sports, but why not tennis? There is huge growth potential for that reason. I can’t say what’s best for other African countries, because they are all different and have their unique challenges and advantages as well.

But from our perspective, the thing that we’ve seen in trying to grow tennis in this country is that there are some fundamental principles that you need to put in place. If you do, I think you can grow. You need to have a clear vision of where you want to take the sport. And to have a plan to back up that vision. It needs to be underpinned by good governance and principles and ultimately show signs of progress. I think those are the fundamental tools to grow the sport throughout Africa.

The Soweto Open was such an iconic tournament on the Challenger Tour. Are you considering bringing it back in the future?
I think we would definitely like to bring it back at some point. It is an iconic event, held at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto. Arthur Ashe has a deep connection and history within this country. I think it’s something we would look to bring back in the future.

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Preview: So Just Who Is The Favourite Here?

  • Posted: Feb 20, 2021

There are times when you almost feel sorry for them.

Seated courtside, innocently enough, wife Daria and coach Gilles Cervara are oftentimes on the receiving end of Daniil Medvedev’s rants, his mid-match diatribes, as he seeks some frustration relief.

With his charge heading into a telltale fifth set against Filip Krajinovic in the third round of the Australian Open, Cervara had seen and heard enough. Medvedev had never before won a five-setter. It was best for all concerned, thought the Frenchman, if he vacated the premises and let Medvedev figure things out on his own. The ploy worked. Medvedev went on to win, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-0.

But Cervara is the first to tell you that, when the Russian sounds off, it’s nothing personal. It’s just a glimpse into the Medvedev mind; him working out the puzzle in real-time.

“His game is like his personality — very different,” explained Cervara in 2019, as Medvedev surged toward his first major final at Flushing Meadows. “It’s like coaching a genius. Sometimes a genius, you don’t understand them. It’s like this. They’re different. And you have to connect to this guy like he is.”

John McEnroe, himself once an outside-the-box strategist prone to the occasional tirade, had a more Kasparovian comparison in mind: “He’s like a chess master.”

Daniil Medvedev

Since that Slam breakthrough at the US Open, when he pushed Rafael Nadal to the brink in a final that stands among the finest ever played in the borough of Queens, Medvedev, 25, has been a model of consistency, a man of many streaks. He swept his last 10 matches of 2020, including seven Top 10 wins and titles at both the Rolex Paris Masters and the Nitto ATP Finals. Carrying that over into 2021, his winning streak is now at 20.

“It’s tough to keep this momentum going from London to Melbourne,” said Medvedev, who since becoming the highest-charting Russian since Nikolay Davydenko in 2008 (No. 4 in the FedEx ATP Rankings), has gone from hunter to hunted. “I’m just happy that I managed to keep my game on top. Of course, for the confidence, when you beat everybody, it’s just great, because I think people start maybe to be a little bit scared about you. At the same time, sometimes there are going to be some that are going to want to beat you even more. It’s a tricky situation.”

Now into the second Grand Slam final of his career, Medvedev is in for his biggest test yet in the form of eight-time champion Novak Djokovic. On paper, he’s out of his league. Djokovic, after all, is seeking his 18th major singles title, one that would narrow the gap between himself and Big Three brethren Nadal and Roger Federer; Medvedev is still in pursuit of his first.

While he may be the hotter player, this one he’ll have to earn the hard way. Despite suffering an abdominal injury in his five-set tussle with Taylor Fritz in the third round, Djokovic appears to be rounding into his familiar title-grabbing form.

“Being in this situation before many times I think helps me kind of gather all the necessary elements for me to peak at the right time, which is happening again,” said Djokovic.

The top seed and two-time defending champion says he has no plans to hand over the title.

“When Novak says he’s not going to hand anything to somebody, I believe him,” said Medvedev, who convincingly straight-setted fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. “I know that to beat him you need to show your best tennis, be at your best physically maybe four or five hours and be at your best mentally maybe for five hours.

“You never know how the match is going to go. To win a Slam, especially against somebody like Novak, is already a big motivation, and I don’t think there’s anything that can make it bigger. I like Novak. I appreciate him as a tennis player. So I don’t take these words as something negative. I’m quite motivated without those words. I have nothing to lose, to be honest.”

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic, 33, boasts a slight edge in ATP Head2Head encounters, 4-3, including a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 Round of 16 win on the hard courts of Melbourne Park in 2019. But it was Medvedev who claimed their most recent meeting at the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals, 6-3, 6-3. Should he find a way to outthink the World No. 1 again on Sunday, he will rise to No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, becoming the first player not named Djokovic, Nadal, Federer or Andy Murray to do so in a decade-and-a-half.

“Daniil Medvedev is the player to beat,” said Djokovic, who by defeating upstart Aslan Karatsev, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, maintained his unbeaten record in Australian Open semi-finals (9-0). “He’s on a big winning streak. He ended out the [2020] season in the best possible fashion, winning quite comfortably against the top players, against myself in straight sets in London, and he just has improved a lot. He has a big serve. For a tall guy, he moves extremely well. Forehand maybe was his weaker shot, but he has improved that, as well. Backhand is as good as it gets. He’s so solid. He doesn’t give you much. He’s not afraid nowadays to attack and get to the net and take it to his opponents. He’s definitely a very smart tennis player.”

Yes, Medvedev has the strokes, the firepower to give fits even to someone who’s owned Rod Laver Arena in recent years. But his best weapon might just be his mind.

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