Melbourne – After giving Stefanos Tsitsipas a semifinal bruising on Friday, Daniil Medvedev fired a mental barb at Novak Djokovic ahead of their Australian Open final, declaring the pressure was all on the Serbian champion’s shoulders.
The relentless Russian will compete in his first Australian Open final on Sunday and will be seeking his first Grand Slam title after beating Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 at Rod Laver Arena Friday night.
Djokovic, meanwhile, will be bidding for a record-extending ninth Australian Open title, which would give him 18 Grand Slam titles overall and leave him just two behind the all-time record of 20, which is currently shared by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Medvedev has won his last 20 matches, including 12 against top-10 opponents. He’s also beaten Djokovic, on the way to winning the ATP Finals, during that run.
“First of all, I like that I don’t have a lot of pressure because he never lost in eight times he was here in the finals,” Medvedev said.
“It’s he who has all the pressure, you know, getting to Roger, Rafa and the Grand Slams (record).
“So I just hope that I’m going to get out there, show my best tennis.
“As we see, I can win (against) some big names if I play good. That’s the main part. (Djokovic) has, for sure, more experience but more things to lose as well.”
Prior to Medvedev’s semifinal, Djokovic told Eurosport “the new generation” of players had a lot of work to do and he would not “hand it over” to them.
Medvedev responded: “When Novak says he’s not going to hand anything to somebody, I believe him.
“So I know that to beat him you need to just show your best tennis.”
Djokovic also praised Medvedev as the “man to beat” in Melbourne and for two brilliant sets, the Russian lived up to the billing.
He was a break up in the third before a wobble on serve brought Tsitsipas and an army of Greek fans back into the game.
He broke Tsitsipas again and served out the match with authority.
The 25-year-old famously riled up the crowd at the 2019 U.S. Open before winning them over in a gritty five-set loss against Nadal in the final.
He admitted to having been thrown off by the baying crowd on Friday after playing in empty stadiums during the five-day lockdown in Melbourne.
“I got a little bit tight, not because of the score at all but more because of the crowd … When you’re used to playing with a crowd, it’s one thing,” Medvedev said.
“Here, it did get into my head. I’m happy that I managed to change my focus and change the momentum at the end of the third set.”
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