Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 18, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his match against Russia’s Aslan Karatsev REUTERS/Jaimi Joy
February 23, 2021
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic will need to be at his best to beat Russian Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s Australian Open final but the eight-time champion will be slightly ahead due to his experience, former world number two Alex Corretja has said.
The 33-year-old Djokovic has triumphed in every final he has reached at Melbourne Park but in Medvedev he faces a challenger who has won 20 consecutive matches, including 12 straight victories over top-10 opponents.
“I think they are going to kill each other,” said Eurosport pundit Corretja. “I am expecting a very long match, both play a very similar game style.
“They both need their serves, their backhands are both unbelievable. Forehands – Novak moves his wrist a little bit more, but not too much more, than Daniil.
“I think they will play like a mirror to each other, unbelievable back-hand cross court, they change down the line, both great competitors.”
Medvedev, 25, lost his only Grand Slam final when he went down in five sets to Rafa Nadal at the 2019 U.S. Open and will go into Sunday’s match having defeated the reigning men’s world number one in three out of their last four meetings.
A win on Sunday under the floodlights of the Rod Laver Arena will extend Djokovic’s aura on the blue hardcourt and give him his 18th Grand Slam title, two shy of the men’s record of 20 shared by Roger Federer and Nadal.
“But if you just think about the shape of both of them, I think Medvedev has been showing that he is a guy coming to the tournament in a better shape and he kept that momentum going,” said Corretja, a two-time French Open finalist.
“He is going to be so, so difficult to beat and Novak will need to be at his best and will need to be very clear on his game plan and the way he wants to play …
“If both players are healthy, we are going to have a hell of a match. Maybe I am leaning really slightly towards Novak but just slightly, maybe 55-45 in favour of Novak.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Lincoln Feast.)