Novak Djokovic wins 18th Grand Slam title in continued Australian Open dominance

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·4 min read

If Novak Djokovic makes the Australian Open final, it's all but assured he'll take it.

Djokovic, ranked No. 1 in the world, won his ninth Australian Open singles title on Sunday, defeating No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. He's made the tournament final nine times and won every one to set a tournament record for men's Australian Open titles. Sunday's championship is a three-peat for the star.

The win is his 18th career Grand Slam, leaving him two behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's record-best 20 singles titles at Grand Slams.

He has won six of the last 10 majors and will keep his No. 1 ranking through at least March 8. By then his mark of 311 weeks will break another record held by Federer, per the Associated Press.

Djokovic snaps Medvedev's 20-match win streak

Medvedev, 25, hadn't lost since October and came in to the Australian Open final on a 20-match winning streak. But Djokovic controlled the match from the start, winning 13 of the first 16 points to take a 3-0 lead.

Russia's Medvedev made it 3-all, then again knotted it at 5-all. Djokovic, 33, broke to win the set when Medvedev hit a forehand into the net as someone in the crowd yelled out.

It was Djokovic's match from there and he won 73 percent of points when his first serve hit. Medvedev made 30 unforced errors, made more glaring by Djokovic making only 17.

"He's definitely one of the toughest players that I ever faced in my life," Djokovic said after the match. "It's a matter of time before you're going to hold a Grand Slam, that's for sure."

Djokovic, who called it a love affair with Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, then joked Medvedev might have to wait a few years, though. It was Medvedev's second Grand Slam final. He was runner-up to Nadal at the 2019 U.S. Open.

Early injury put Djokovic's title in doubt

Serbia's Novak Djokovic holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after defeating Russia's Daniil Medvedev in the men's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021.(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Serbia's Novak Djokovic holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup for the third consecutive year. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

It wasn't certain last week that Djokovic would continue in the tournament after injuring his midsection during the third round. Taylor Fritz took him to a fifth set in that one, and Djokovic prevailed but cautioned afterward he might not be able to play his fourth-round match.

He underwent scans the following day and did end up playing, telling reporters if it weren't a Grand Slam he would have withdrawn from the competition. He played a four-set match that included two tiebreakers against Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals, another uncharacteristically long one for Djokovic in Melbourne.

Djokovic came into the final having ceded five sets over the course of the tournament, the most he's ever lost en route to a title. He called the last couple weeks, which started with calling for special treatment for 72 people on hard quarantine, a "roller coaster ride." And he gave a special thanks to his personal trainer, Ulises Badio, for getting him through the injury.

Djokovic pulls closer to Federer, Nadal

Djokovic is one year younger than Nadal and six years younger than Federer, who has been sidelined by two surgeries on his right knee. Federer turns 40 in August.

His Grand Slam total includes five at Wimbledon, three at the U.S. Open and one at the French Open. It's now a race to stay around the longest and keep the record when he leaves.

"Roger and Rafael inspire me," Djokovic said after the victory. "That's something I've said before, and I'll say again. And I think as long as they go, I'll go. I think in a way it's a race who plays tennis more I guess and who wins more. It's a competition between us in all areas."

Medvedev called them "cyborgs of tennis ... in a good way. They're just unbelievable."

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