‘Novak Djokovic was at 100%. I accepted the challenge,’ says Daniil Medvedev

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev have met 12 times since 2017. The Serb scored eight victories and had to work hard to achieve some of those, with the Russian always giving his 120% against a great rival. Daniil toppled Novak in the last year’s US Open final, preventing him from achieving a calendar Grand Slam. Medvedev had a massive chance to secure the second consecutive Major title at the Australian Open this year, opening an enormous advantage against Rafael Nadal before falling in five sets. Daniil did not play that well in the rest of the season, struggling against the top-10 rivals and lifting two smaller ATP titles. Medvedev secured a place at the ATP Finals, determined to improve his results and chase notable wins. Instead, he lost all three round-robin encounters in the deciding tie break, including two when he served for victory! Daniil faced Novak in the last round-robin match, already losing a chance to reach the semis. Despite that, it turned into an open war, with Djokovic prevailing 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 in three hours and 11 minutes! Novak struggled physically since the second set, barely staying on his legs and refusing to surrender even when Daniil served for the victory in the decider. The Serb raised his level from 3-3 in the opener to take it 6-3 after 46 minutes. The second set’s opening eight games saw more dynamic holds, as they stayed locked at 4-4.

Novak Djokovic prevailed over Daniil Medvedev in a thriller.

Medvedev saved a break point in game nine, and Djokovic gave his everything to fend off three set points in the next one and prolong his chances despite an apparent struggle. They stayed neck and neck until 5-5 in the tie break before Medvedev grabbed the last two points to claim the set and force a decider after nearly two hours. As in set number two, they both produced fine holds in the final set to level the score at 4-4. The ninth game saw a real roller coaster, with almost ten deuces and endless exchanges. Daniil grabbed a break after Novak’s wild forehand and served for the victory in game ten. Refusing to surrender, Novak broke back at 15 with a volley winner at the net to lock the result at 5-5 and extend the drama. The set went into a tie break, and Novak gained a boost and won it 7-2 following a forehand down the line winner, making him roar in joy.

“Novak and I have had some great battles, and I won some of those. That’s all I can say. We are close to each other when we compete, but I’m far from him regarding achievements. I did not have much motivation before the match, and it was not easy to step in and fight. Novak was at 100%, and I accepted the challenge and wanted to have fun. That’s what happened. I served for the victory and sucked in that game; it was a disaster. I lost two matches while serving for the win, which is awful. I will try to improve next time; there’s no other choice,” Daniil Medvedev said.