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Quarantines & Comebacks: An AO Like No Other

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2021

You’ll forgive Craig Tiley if he’s sprouted an extra gray hair or two in recent months. The Tennis Australia CEO had been tasked with the formidable challenge, after all, to host a global sporting event amidst a global pandemic.

His plan was ingenious, really, though even Tiley anticipated a few stumbles along the way. The Australian Open had already been pushed back from its original start date of 18 January to 8 February, with qualifying rounds moved to Doha and Dubai. Alternating between the roles of tournament director and ad hoc health administrator, Tiley, never more removed from his days as tennis coach at the University of Illinois, would bring some 1,200 athletes and coaches to Melbourne on more than a dozen chartered flights from all corners of the world.

“We have now a chance to showcase our ability as the major events capital of the world, as well as our capability of delivering these events in what is a very challenging time for all of us,” said Tiley of the ambitious agenda, which included the lead-up Great Ocean Road Open, Murray River Open, ATP Cup and three WTA 500 events.

In addition to daily COVID-19 testing, the new arrivals would be required to quarantine in their respective hotel rooms, which in itself produced some comedic results. Oh, the ingenuity. Pablo Cuevas invented the sport of bed surfing; Tennys Sandgren shoulder-pressed his stationary bike; Denis Shapovalov ran serpentine sprints in his entryway; Bernard Tomic’s girlfriend, the reality TV star Vanessa Sierra, was forced to shampoo her own hair.

When news of positive COVID tests traced to the flights from LA and Doha surfaced, 72 players were forced into “hard” quarantine. While others were allotted five hours of supervised daily release that included practice time, they were mandated to hold up in their rooms for 14 days.

If ever there were a labour of love, this was it. Both financially and otherwise.

TA reportedly poured some $AU40 million into the logistical effort, knowing all along that a reduced crowd capacity would cost the governing body millions more. This while offering $AU80 million in prize money. When the tournament finally got underway, it was a revelation; actual spectators in the stands, cheering on their racquet-wielding heroes. For some, it felt like time travel, a return to the pre-COVID existence they once knew.

“We have to be very thankful for being able to play a tournament in the middle of a pandemic and to pull that through in such a tough and delicate moment,” said Grigor Dimitrov, who went on to reach the quarter-finals. “We all know what is going on in the world. It’s tough. It’s very uncomfortable. It makes life difficult for so many, not only for us as athletes but for people around the world. For us to be able to play, to perform, it means a lot.”

Novak Djokovic

“We’re lucky to be able to keep doing our job, without a doubt. We can’t complain at all,” echoed second seed Rafael Nadal, who likened the tournament, and all its moving parts, to a traveling circus.

Those stumbles anticipated by Tiley would indeed come. Midway through the fortnight, a cluster of coronavirus cases surfaced at an airport hotel, leading Daniel Andrews, Premier of the Australian state of Victoria, to implement a five-day lockdown, meaning that matches would temporarily be played in empty arenas. It was a surreal moment when the lockdown kicked in at midnight; those in attendance for the gripping third-round clash between Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz filed out of Rod Laver Arena with the witching hour approaching, the outcome yet to be determined.

“Well, definitely one of the strangest matches that I was ever part of,” said Djokovic, who fought through a third-set tumble to prevail in five sets. “It’s unfortunate for the crowd that we didn’t finish the match with them seeing the end.”

Somehow the show went on. Whether they were lucky enough to be at Melbourne Park or watching from the couch at home, fans were treated to some epic tennis. They witnessed the feel-good resurfacing of a pair of Aussie fan-favourites, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis. (One hadn’t played in 11 months; the other hadn’t won a main-draw match at his home Slam in a half dozen years.)

Novak Djokovic

They saw Iron Man Feliciano Lopez, 39 and playing in his record 75th consecutive major, storm back from two sets down in the second round. They saw an all-but-unknown, 114th-ranked Russian with a name straight out of The Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan Karatsev, become the first man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals in his Grand Slam debut. They saw Stefanos Tsitsipas pull off a rarity, overcoming a two-set deficit against Nadal, something that’s now happened only twice in 225 Grand Slam matches when the Spaniard had a two-sets-to-love lead. The list goes on.

No, it wasn’t the first event to be played in COVID conditions. That distinction went to the Western & Southern Open (won by Djokovic), held at the Bille Jean King National Tennis Center leading into the 2020 US Open. Roland Garros found against-the-odds success last year, too, moving from its usual May-June to a chilly, low-bounce September-October. Many ATP Tour events recalibrated in the latter part of 2020 after play on the Tour resumed, and ATP added a number of single-year licences to tournaments in 2020 and 2021 to provide playing opportunities for players.

But the 2021 Australian Open should be celebrated in its own right, for the many obstacles it overcame. It was proof that we can indeed hang on to some sense of normalcy – such as Djokovic again being the last man standing in Rod Laver Arena – in this changing world.

Hopefully, Craig Tiley, and his dedicated team at Tennis Australia, are headed for some beachside recliners for a well-earned stretch of R&R. It was worth those gray hairs in the end.

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Scouting Report: 15 Things To Watch In Cordoba, Montpellier & Singapore

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2021

The ATP Tour departs from Melbourne after a thrilling Australian summer of tennis as a trio of ATP 250 tournaments kick off across three different continents and two different surfaces. Argentina will host a clay-court event, the Cordoba Open, and there will be two indoor hard-court events: the Open Sud de France in Montpellier and the Singapore Tennis Open.

Diego Schwartzman will try to win on home soil in Cordoba, where he reached the final a year ago. Former World No. 1 Andy Murray will make his first tour-level appearance since last October at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Held on a single-year licence, the Singapore Tennis Open will feature Marin Cilic as the former US Open champion eyes a ninth indoor hard-court title.

Draws: Cordoba | Montpellier | Singapore

1) Déjà Vu For Diego: Cordoba Open top seed Schwartzman could face some familiar names as he returns to Argentina seeking his first title on home soil. The three-time ATP Tour titlist saw five of his countrymen land on his half of the draw, including Guido Pella, who defeated him here in the 2019 quarter-finals. Schwartzman could also face fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a rematch of their 2020 Cordoba quarter-final, in which Schwartzman claimed his fifth consecutive victory in their ATP Head2Head record.

2) Flying The Flag: White and sky blue are two colors that never go out of fashion in Argentina, and the nation’s emblematic flag will certainly be flying high in Cordoba with seven Argentine players contesting the main draw. Fourth seed Pella and eighth seed Federico Delbonis will look to add another title to their clay-court credentials, while former champion Juan Ignacio Londero returns to the site of his maiden ATP Tour title victory.

3) Paire’s Title Bid: Second seed Benoit Paire is looking to kickstart his season after going winless at the ATP Cup and Australian Open. The clay-courts of Cordoba could provide the spark he needs as he searches for his fourth ATP Tour title and his first since 2019 Lyon. All of the Frenchman’s tour-level trophies have come on clay. He will play Nicolas Jarry or Jaume Munar in his opener.


4) South American Supremacy: Cordoba has crowned back-to-back South American champions since the tournament joined the ATP Tour calendar in 2019. Argentina’s Londero triumphed in the inaugural edition while Chile’s Cristian Garin lifted the trophy last year. In doubles, at least one South American player has won the doubles title each edition. Argentina’s Andres Molteni triumphed in 2019 (with Roman Jebavy) and Brazil’s Marcelo Demoliner was victorious in 2020 (with Matwe Middelkoop).

5) Miomir’s Moment: Last year, Miomir Kecmanovic soared to a breakthrough victory at the Generali Open in Kitzbuhe. But winning his first ATP Tour trophy on clay was a surprise even for the Serbian himself, who usually prefers a faster surface. The 21-year-old will be tested in a challenging quarter of the draw, which includes seventh seed Thiago Monteiro, #NextGenATP Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild and Roberto Carballes Baena. Kecmanovic also announced on Instagram Saturday that he will be working with former World No. 3 David Nalbandian.

1) Murray Makes Montpellier Debut:
Murray will compete in his first ATP Tour event since October after being awarded a wild card into Montpellier. The Brit kicked off his season last week at the Biella Challenger Indoor 1, where he reached his first final at any level since 2019. Murray will take on Egor Gerasimov in his opening match, and he could meet Jannik Sinner in the second round. The former World No. 1 will try to win his third tour-level title in France.

2) Sinner Recharged: #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner made an inspired effort to bounce back after a rollercoaster run to the Great Ocean Road Open title. But the 19-year-old fell in five sets against Denis Shapovalov in the first round at the Australian Open. Now that he’s had time to rest, Sinner, who trained with Rafael Nadal during quarantine in Melbourne, is ready to return to his winning ways. The Italian arrives in Montpellier seeking his second indoor hard-court title (also 2020 Sofia Open).

3) The French Domination: French champions have ruled the courts in Montpellier at the Open Sud de France, lifting the trophy eight times since the event’s first edition in 2010. Lucas Pouille, the 2018 champion, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2019 titlist, are in the same section of the draw as No. 2 seed David Goffin. Tsonga, who is competing for the first time since last year’s Australian Open, has an intriguing first-round match-up against Delray Beach finalist Sebastian Korda.

4) Goffin In Gear: Second seed David Goffin has tasted ATP Tour success on French soil before, and it also came on indoor hard courts as he won the 2014 Moselle Open in Metz. The Belgian is seeking his fifth tour-level title, and his first since winning Tokyo in 2017.

5) Kontinen/ERV Lead The Way: Henri Kontinen and Edouard Roger-Vasselin top the doubles field in Montpellier. This is their first year as a team after Roger-Vasselin and Jurgen Melzer qualified for last year’s Nitto ATP Finals. Singles stars competing in the doubles field at this French ATP 250 include Ugo Humbert/Tsonga and Goffin/Pouille.

1) ATP Tour Action Returns To Singapore: Singapore’s first ATP Tour event in 22 years will be played on indoor hard courts and held on a single-year licence at the 3,000-seater OCBC Arena inside the vast Singapore Sports Hub. Singapore previously hosted an ATP tournament between 1989-1992 and 1996-1999.

2) Cilic On The Charge: Big-serving Cilic is aiming to capture his ninth ATP Tour crown on indoor hard courts and make it 19 career titles. Victory in Singapore would put him one step closer to becoming only the sixth active player to lift 20 tour-level crowns, joining Roger Federer (103), Rafael Nadal (86), Novak Djokovic (82), Andy Murray (46) and Juan Martin del Potro (22) on the elite list.

3) Fourth Time Lucky: Adrian Mannarino is the top seed in Singapore, and he will try to win his second ATP Tour title. The Frenchman has reached nine additional tour-level finals, including three indoors. The lefty will play Ernests Gulbis or Roberto Marcora in the second round.

4) Second Time: Second seed John Millman is looking to double his ATP Tour trophy count after his maiden victory last year in Nur-Sultan. The Aussie veteran is in the same half of the draw as big-serving Cilic. Millman will open his Singapore campaign against countryman Matthew Ebden or Indian Yuki Bhambri.

5) Belgians Lead The Way: The top seeds in the Singapore doubles draw are Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, who have won four ATP Tour doubles titles together. The second seeds are Rohan Bopanna and Ben McLachlan, who are from India and Japan, respectively.

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Djokovic’s Australian Open ‘Love Affair’ Hits Social Media

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2021

As the news of Novak Djokovic’s record-extending ninth Australian Open triumph made headlines around the world, tennis fans and players took to social media to congratulate the World No. 1 on his latest major milestone. Djokovic stayed perfect in Melbourne finals (9-0) after dismantling Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win the championship match on Sunday. compiled the best reactions to Djokovic’s historic 18th Grand Slam crown.

Djokovic himself wasted no time in commemorating the moment on Twitter and giving a shout out to his team in Melbourne. 

During his champion’s speech, Djokovic made sure to reserve a thank you to an extended member of the family: “I would like to thank this court. I would like to thank Rod Laver Arena, I love you more and more each year. This love affair keeps growing.”

It’s a “love affair” that wife Jelena Djokovic certainly approved of as she celebrated his victory from home.

Medvedev led the congratulations for the World No. 1, who responded with some social media sportsmanship.

Medvedev also shared a great anecdote about the nine-time champion during his own on-court speech. He recalled a practice session with Djokovic from way back in 2015, when the Russian was ranked outside the Top 500 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

Here’s a throwback to that now famous practice session in Monaco. 


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Medvedev Daniil (@medwed33)

Check out more posts and reactions here as the sports world salutes Djokovic’s mastery in Melbourne.

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Goran On Slams Race: 'The Chase is Beginning'

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2021

After declaring Novak Djokovic’s stunning 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 Australian Open final victory against Daniil Medvedev a ‘masterpiece’, coach Goran Ivanisevic says that it’s only a matter of time before the Serb and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal overtake Roger Federer in the Grand Slam titles battle.

Djokovic’s 18th major championship triumph places him within touching distance of Big Three rivals Nadal and Federer, who both own a record 20 Grand Slam trophies. This is the first time that Djokovic has been within two titles of the all-time record and he has also extended his lead over Nadal and Federer in the ‘Big Titles’ race. 

“This is great. Number 18. Now the chase is beginning. The chase is there and it’s great. [Novak has] a lot of confidence.”

As a coach and a tennis fan, Ivanisevic is excited for what the remainder of 2021 and beyond will offer in the race for Grand Slam supremacy. Djokovic and Nadal have combined to win 10 of the past 11 Grand Slam events, with Dominic Thiem’s breakthrough at last year’s US Open the only exception.

“Rafa, for sure, is going to win one [more Grand Slam], I hope not two, but I give him one,” said Ivanisevic. “Who knows? They’re unbelievable. They [are] producing better and better tennis every time when you think they [are] gone. The young guns are coming, they are here but these guys are better, one step better in the finals. I don’t know where is the end…

“It’s amazing what they are doing on the court. It’s amazing how they perform in the big matches. I’m waiting for Roger to come back. It’s going to be more interesting to see what is going to happen at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. [It] is just great. The race is there. I said a couple [of] years ago [that] Rafa and Novak [are both] going to overtake Roger. I still believe that. I still think so.”

Big Titles Kings

As Djokovic’s coach, Ivanisevic has experienced the biggest highs and lows of the Serbian’s past two years on Tour. The Croat was a part of the team when Djokovic saved two championship points to defeat Roger Federer in an all-time classic 2019 Wimbledon final and he also supported the World No. 1 when Rafael Nadal produced a stunning display against his charge in last year’s Roland Garros championship match.

After witnessing his man’s dominant performance against Medvedev on Rod Laver Arena, Ivanisevic’s assessment of Djokovic’s ninth final win at Melbourne Park was simple.

“Today was just a masterpiece… [It was an] unbelievable, unbelievable performance,” said Ivanisevic.

The 2001 Wimbledon champion approved of every element of his player’s game. Djokovic won 68 per cent of second-serve return points (19/28), kept his unforced error count to 17 and won 16 of 18 net points (89 per cent) en route to victory.

“Everything [impressed me]. How he stayed calm, how he did everything exactly [how] we talked [about] before the match. All the key points,” said Ivanisevic. “If you see Daniil’s record for [the] past 20 matches (20-0), [it] was very impressive.

“[Daniil] was really playing unbelievable tennis, probably the best tennis from everybody here. [Novak had] all the key points to return Daniil’s serve.”

Novak Djokovic

As it has in each of the nine Australian Open finals Djokovic has played (9-0), the 82-time tour-level titlist’s game came together at the perfect time at Melbourne Park. Ivanisevic was not only impressed with the six-time year-end World No. 1’s individual strokes, he was also pleased by Djokovic’s fearless attitude against an opponent who had won his past 12 matches against Top 10 players.

“He was not afraid of Daniil’s backhand. He was not afraid to come in. He was not afraid to serve,” said Ivanisevic. “He was serving [well throughout] the whole tournament, so many aces… Novak was just perfect and executing and taking every chance…

“Honestly, I thought [this would be] a pretty even match before the match started. But this is the final. This is Novak’s court. Novak never lost a match here in the final. You could see that that helped a lot in the end.”

Djokovic’s record-extending ninth Australian Open title run has placed the Serbian in the most exclusive of Grand Slam clubs. Djokovic is only the second man, alongside 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, to win nine or more titles at a single major championship.

“He showed the world again how great, how big he is as a tennis player,” said Ivanisevic. “This is his tournament. Like Rafa has Roland Garros, Novak has [the] Australian Open. This victory is even sweeter [given] that I know what he has [gone through]. I know what kind of emotions and pain he went through in [the] past week, and he won the tournament in this way. It’s just amazing.”

Djokovic’s run to his 18th Grand Slam trophy was perhaps his most complicated. The 33-year-old, who was competing in his 28th major final (18-10), conceded more sets en route to this championship match (5) than any of his previous 27 Grand Slam final runs.

Two of those five sets were dropped in a dramatic third-round clash against Taylor Fritz. Leading by two-sets-to-love, Djokovic sustained a tear to an abdominal oblique muscle in the early stages of the third set. The Serbian was pushed to a fifth set by the American, but he eventually managed to pull through in three hours and 25 minutes.

Djokovic, who took an MRI after that match, was pushed to four sets in his next two matches against Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev, before playing pain-free in his straight-sets semi-final victory against Aslan Karatsev.

“Some people, they can deal with the pain. Some people, they cannot deal with the pain,” said Ivanisevic. “It’s like that… [The] key match for me was [the] one with Raonic, and after with Zverev. After that [he] was better and better.”

Djokovic’s ability to manage the injury through his final four matches of the tournament was inspirational to Ivanisevic.

“He’s amazing. [This run] shows you that the guy is just unbelievable,” said Ivanisevic. “Mentally, I never met somebody like that… I witnessed something that was amazing. This victory — with what he had — is unbelievable, just amazing.”

The Grand Slam titles race will recommence from 23 May to 6 June at Roland Garros. Nadal has won the clay-court Grand Slam championship on 13 occasions since his debut in 2005, while Federer (2009) and Djokovic (2016) have both claimed the trophy on one occasion.

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Djokovic Confirms Muscle Tear, Making Melbourne Run Superhuman

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2021

Not even a muscle tear was able to stop Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

The World No. 1 confirmed for the first time after lifting his ninth trophy at Melbourne Park on Sunday that he tore an abdominal oblique muscle during his third-round victory against Taylor Fritz. The Serbian persevered to claim his 18th Grand Slam title.

“I was quite worried. [It] did not look realistic that I could actually play. I didn’t know until two hours before the fourth-round match. That’s when I stepped on the court and played for the first time since the third round,” Djokovic said. “The pain was at the level that was bearable for me. I just accepted the fact that I’m going to have to play with the pain.”

It’s difficult enough to win a major without an injury. But Djokovic defeated two former World No. 3s — Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev — halted Aslan Karatsev’s dream run and then defeated the hottest player on the planet, Daniil Medvedev, who was on a 20-match winning streak, in the final. Just nine days ago, after tearing the muscle during a five-set victory against Taylor Fritz, Djokovic wasn’t sure he would take the court in the Round of 16.

“Whether I was aware of the fact that I’m going to possibly make more damage and risk more damage to this injury? Yes, I was aware of that,” Djokovic said. “If there was any tournament, it’s going to be here and it’s going to be any major where I would risk worse injuries or damage in order to try to give myself a chance to go far in the tournament.

“Of course, I haven’t done it myself. [The] medical team, my physio, [they] have done tremendous work. With God’s grace, I managed to achieve what I achieved and I’m very thankful.”


Many marvel at Djokovic’s Gumby-like movement. The Serbian contorts his body in unthinkable ways on the court, making his body look like a human slinky toy. Moving like that is jaw-dropping under normal circumstances, forget doing so with an abdominal injury.

The serve heavily relies on a player’s core, yet Djokovic hit 23 aces in a four-set quarter-final victory against Zverev. Before striking 26 aces in the second round, Djokovic’s career-high was 23. Pushing through the pain is one thing, but maintaining a level fit for the World No. 1 is another.

Djokovic only lost two sets from the fourth round on against a slew of difficult opponents. That would have been impressive any year, but under the circumstances the 33-year-old’s effort was superhuman. 

“I know there’s been a lot of speculations, people questioning whether I’m injured, how I can recover so quickly, it’s impossible to do that. I get it. Look, everyone is entitled [to] their own opinion,” Djokovic said. “What we have done in the past nine, 10 days, you’ll get a chance to see in details probably [at the] end of this year when the documentary [we are making] comes out. I’ve been filming a lot of things that I’ve been doing here, but also in the previous six months.” 

The Serbian is the second male player in history to win nine titles at a single Grand Slam championship, joining Rafael Nadal, who has triumphed at Roland Garros 13 times. The World No. 1 is now within two major titles of Roger Federer and Nadal’s record 20.

“Roger and Rafa inspire me. That’s something that I’ve said before, I’ll say it again. I think as long as they go, I’ll go,” Djokovic said. “In a way it’s like a race [of] who plays tennis more, I guess, and who wins more. It’s a competition between us in all areas. But I think that’s the very reason why we are who we are, because we do drive each other, we motivate each other, we push each other to the limit.”

Read More From Melbourne
Dominant Djokovic Seals Record-Extending Ninth Melbourne Crown
Melbourne Masterclass Draws Djokovic Nearer Federer, Nadal
A Look Back At Novak’s Nine Aussie Open Titles
Djokovic Extends Big Titles Lead Over Nadal, Federer

As a kid, Djokovic dreamt of winning Wimbledon and reaching No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Although the Serbian has done both and much more, he does not take his success for granted.

“Of course I tried to remind myself, pinch myself, of how important this is. Even though I have been fortunate to win many majors and play in many major finals in my life, I do enjoy the success every single time even more because I know that the longer the time passes, the more difficult it’s going to become for me to get my hands on the major trophy,” Djokovic said. “You have, of course, new young players coming up that are as hungry as you, maybe even hungrier, and they’re coming up and they’re challenging me and Roger and Rafa.”

Djokovic has long spoken about how important is is to make tennis history. On 8 March, he will surpass Federer for most weeks as World No. 1 with 311. The Serbian will then turn his attention to chasing down his great rivals’ Grand Slam titles record.

“Whether I think about winning more Slams and breaking records, of course. Of course, I do,” Djokovic said. “Most of my attention and my energy from this day forward, until I retire from tennis, is going to be directed in majors, trying to win more major trophies.”

If Djokovic could win a Grand Slam with a muscle tear, will anyone be able to stop him?

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Gone In 8 Minutes: Djokovic Sealed Medvedev's Fate Early

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2021

You never know when the pivotal moment in a match is going to happen, when one player seizes momentum and never relinquishes it. Novak Djokovic won 12 of the first 15 points of the Australian Open final against Daniil Medvedev, holding for 3-0 in the first set with an ace followed by a serve/volley point that ended with a supremely confident Sampras-like jumping overhead winner at the net.

The start and finish of this match were happening at the same time.

Djokovic’s dominant start was underpinned by a massive difference in the players’ forehands: As the Serb raced to a 3-0 lead after eight minutes, he put all 11 forehands he cleanly struck into the court. On the other side of the net, Medvedev’s forehand was hemorrhaging errors as Djokovic went for the kill on that wing early on.

Djokovic would run away with the final 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, with this initial period of the match setting the tone and flow of baseline exchanges. After three games, Medvedev had hit 18 forehands and 11 backhands. Djokovic locked in on Medvedev’s forehand, extracting seven errors from it in the first three games. The first four times Medvedev hit a forehand groundstroke or return in the match, he yielded three errors. Medvedev did hit one forehand winner during this run, but it was inconsequential.

Medvedev made the first nine backhands he struck of the match in the opening three games, but the pressure from the overloaded forehand helped to contribute to two straight backhand errors, including one on break point in his opening service game.

Djokovic had a masterful game plan of ripping apart Medvedev’s forehand before the Russian could assert any strategy of his own, sowing the seeds of anger and disappointment that Medvedev could not shake off for the rest of the match.

Overall, Medvedev would finish with 11 forehand winners, but also contribute 33 forehand errors. Djokovic, by comparison, had much cleaner numbers off the forehand wing, with eight winners and only 16 errors. Medvedev may very well have gone into this match thinking it was going to be a battle royale of the two best backhands in the game. That narrative didn’t exist in the Djokovic playbook.

Everywhere you looked on the match stats sheet, Djokovic asserted his strategic superiority.

Baseline Points Won
• Djokovic = 53% (46/87)
• Medvedev = 38% (35/92)

Net Points Won
• Djokovic = 89% (16/18)
• Medvedev = 62% (8/13)

Serve & Volley Points Won
• Djokovic = 100% (2/2)
• Medvedev = 0% (0/0)

The average rally length for the final was 5.2 shots, which was the longest for either player for the tournament. It didn’t matter if the rallies were short or long, Djokovic had an answer.

Rally Length – Points Won
• 0-4 Shots = Djokovic 52 / Medvedev 43
• 5-8 Shots = Djokovic 20 / Medvedev 12
• 9+ Shots = Djokovic 15 / Medvedev 13

An ironic match metric is that Medvedev got dominated on the scoreboard, but actually finished the match with more winners, hitting 24 to Djokovic’s 20. But this match was never about winners. It’s the error count that made up most of the points, with Medvedev racking up 67 to Djokovic’s 44. This is where separation between the two players occurred.

The match started with an eight-minute mauling of Medvedev’s forehand. There would be no recovery.

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