Daniil Medvedev beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to storm into the Australian Open men’s singles final on Friday. It was the 25-year-old Medvedev’s 20th victory in a row and he will now play his second Grand Slam final against Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
Medvedev, who lost in the 2019 US Open final, is gunning to become Russia’s first male major champion since 2005. The top seed stands in his way though and the Serb is seeking a record-extending ninth men's title in Melbourne. Medvedev has an advantage in the head-to-head stats against Djokovic having won three of their past four meetings. But taking on the Serb in the final of the Australian Open -- he has a 100% winning record in the summit clash at Melbourne Park -- is a whole different ball game.
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The Russian, in top form at the moment, believes the lessons he learnt losing to Nadal in the US Open final, will help him while facing Djokovic.
"I took a lot of experience. It was my first Grand Slam final against one of the greatest and on Sunday I will face one of the other greatest,” he said after the match against Tsitsipas.
"I don't have a lot of pressure because Novak has never lost here in the final. He has all the pressure to get to Roger Federer and Rafa [in the all-time record of 20 men's titles],” he added. "I hope I will get out there and show my best tennis. As we have seen, I can win against the best names if I play well. He has more experience but more things to lose than me."
There are a lot of similarities between Djokovic and Medvedev, the reigning ATP Finals champion. They both have an excellent all-round game that makes them difficult to decipher and overcome — evident in how the Russian dominated the fifth seeded Tsitsipas in the semifinals.
Medvedev’s defensive game is almost indestructible and he used it to carve opportunities to hit winners. Of course, Djokovic’s game won’t unravel so easily as his semifinal opponent’s, that too in a Grand Slam final.
Osaka vs Brady Grudge Match
Naomi Osaka has a simple philosophy going into big finals. She believes that "people don't remember the runners-up". The 23-year-old is yet to lose a Major final she has featured in. That belief will fuel her bid for a fourth Grand Slam title when she faces American Jennifer Brady at the Australian Open women’s final on Saturday.
"The winner's name is the one that's engraved," said third seed Osaka during an interaction in the build-up to the final. "I think I fight the hardest in the finals. I think that's where you sort of set yourself apart. The other person has won as many matches as you did. It's the biggest fight,” she added.
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Osaka, who has won the 2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open and 2020 US Open, is the favourite against 25-year-old Brady. The clash would be a rematch of their high-quality semifinal in New York last year. That match was widely considered as the best WTA match of 2020. Brady, the 22th seed, is in her first Slam final and is keen to avenge that defeat.
However, it is uncharted waters for the American who had never gone past the fourth round at a Grand Slam before reaching the last four at Flushing Meadows last year.
"I don't know how I'm going to feel. I can say I can enjoy the moment and just try to play tennis and not really think too much about it," she said. "But there are going to be moments where I'm going to be thinking 'wow, this could be my first Grand Slam title',” she added.
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