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Djokovic and Medvedev shrug off stress earlier than Australian Open remaining

Many years in the past, when the period of the massive 4 was at its apex and 4 of the perfect gamers of all time would do battle nearly each different week, their shared aggressive nature would generally result in thoughts video games. One of the crucial apparent examples was the various discussions about which participant was the favorite at any given match and would carry essentially the most stress. The gamers have been typically joyful to offer their opinion on the topic. One way or the other, they not often answered “me”.

In recent times, such feedback are much less frequent. It’s almost certainly as a result of they’re all too previous and they’re extra targeted on themselves. However on Friday, as Daniil Medvedev basked in his semi-final victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas and was requested a generic query about the important thing to his remaining in opposition to Novak Djokovic, the discourse returned.

“Initially, I like that I don’t have numerous stress as a result of he by no means misplaced in eight instances that he was right here within the remaining,” he mentioned, chuckling mischievously. “It’s him who had all of the stress attending to Roger [Federer] or Rafa [Nadal] within the grand slam [count].

“He has extra expertise however extra issues to lose than me.”

He’s no less than right that his opponent is the favorite. Djokovic’s supremacy in Melbourne might be nonetheless underrated. He has spent the previous two weeks speaking about his love affair with this match and Rod Laver Area, the place he’s undefeated in finals.

Djokovic shall be bidding to win his ninth Australian Open title, which might break the tie with Federer at Wimbledon because the second-most titles at a males’s grand slam match, behind Nadal’s 13 French Opens.

It won’t be simple. Though Djokovic leads the head-to-head 4-3, Medvedev has gained three of their previous 4 matches, all at ATP occasions in the perfect of three units. Their final encounter on the ATP Finals in November was notably illuminating as Medvedev uncovered a development in Djokovic’s recreation.

Novak Djokovic indicated that he was taking part in with out ache regardless of an stomach damage. {Photograph}: Andy Cheung/Getty Photographs

In recent times, Djokovic has turn out to be more and more environment friendly. His first and second serve have steadily improved to turn out to be invaluable strengths. Final yr he tried to additional that effectivity by incorporating extra drop pictures into his recreation, with blended outcomes.

However in his older age Djokovic has misplaced a few of his endurance and his willingness to grind out factors. In London he couldn’t stick with Medvedev, who served extraordinarily effectively and provided no free factors. From 3-3 within the first set, he started to bail out of the bruising factors with drop pictures or overhit on the mistaken instances. The match shortly unravelled and he misplaced 6-3, 6-3 after producing one break level within the match.

A grand slam remaining with historical past on the road doesn’t evaluate with a three-set match in entrance of no person in London. Not solely will Djokovic be much more intense, constant and current, however will Medvedev be capable to keep his stage in opposition to him over 5 units?

After every week of discussing the damage issues sustained in his third-round match in opposition to Taylor Fritz, Djokovic indicated that he was taking part in with out ache. If he’s, he shall be prepared.

What is definite is that Medvedev just isn’t the one participant to supply a pointy, illuminating remark earlier than this remaining. After his semi-final win in opposition to Aslan Karatsev, Djokovic was requested whether or not he feels the stress from the younger technology, most of whom are taller and extra bodily imposing than him. He responded with a shrug.

Daniil Medvedev beat Djokovic on his way to winning the ATP Finals last year
Daniil Medvedev beat Djokovic on his solution to successful the ATP Finals final yr. {Photograph}: Dave Shopland/BPI/Shutterstock

“Strain is at all times there,” he mentioned. “It’s a part of what we do. There’s been numerous speak in regards to the new generations coming and taking on the three of us, however realistically that isn’t occurring nonetheless.

“We are able to discuss all of it day in order for you however with all my respect in regards to the different guys, they nonetheless have numerous work to do. I’m not going to face right here and hand it over to them. I’m going to make them work their ass off for it.”

Djokovic has been requested about youthful gamers numerous instances over the previous 4 years and it’s troublesome to recollect a solution as brutally trustworthy as that. He’s right the youthful gamers, who’ve obtained much more hype and media than he or his technology ever did as youngsters, have nonetheless not damaged by. At 25, Medvedev just isn’t notably younger.

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Nevertheless, his change of tone in all probability additionally displays the enhancements gamers corresponding to Medvedev and Tsitsipas have made. The Russian is now a transparent contender. He arrives within the remaining on a 20-match successful streak and a win would ship him to a career-high rating of No 2, breaking the massive 4’s stranglehold excessive two since 2005.

That is no time for faint reward and unnecessary compliments. Just for each males to step on to the court docket with their greatest foot ahead.