I wish I could pull-off this preview in haiku form or perhaps more accurately as a senryū.
Maybe I’ll work on this kind of approach with my post-match analysis.
There isn’t too much to say about this one :D. Medvedev appears to be the hottest player in the draw though the world #1 and eight-time AO champ, defending his ’19-’20 titles, looks to be making a very similar case and given that this is a major, which utilizes the Bo5 format, this contest does lean to the Serb’s advantage. This is obvious. If you have Medvedev as a clear favorite, you are very new to this here sport (and/or lacking common sense).
No doubt there are numbers that give Medvedev’s case some gravity. His win streak coming into this match (the number of those wins against top-10 players), and his 3-4 H2H record against Djokovic, adding that one of those was in a Cincy SF back in 2019. The Russian has played well in some big matches agains big opponents. We know this. We all remember his 2019 run at the U.S. Open where he lost to Nadal in five sets.
I wrote right after that match that the legend status that people were giving him was a joke. That’s more of a problem with our entire mainstream westernized culture. But people back in 2019, after he failed to beat Nadal in that major final, wanting to call him a “legend” or the next great player were getting a little ahead of themselves. He’s good, don’t get me wrong. But someone with a real game plan, with the skills to execute the game plan, can definitely put this guy into serious discomfort, make him work a lot harder and probably, along the way, push the right buttons on this cocky SOB to orchestrate a melt-down, which most of us have seen on multiple occasions.
By the way, Medvedev has been on my radar for a while. Even before this link below, but this was part of a brief preview of Novak’s 2019 R16 match against this Russian:
This quarter had a load of pretenders (Novak snacks), and you know I’ve been “requesting” this Medvedev match because this guy can play. Should be good, perhaps a whiff of resistance from the Russian before Novak carries-on.
Medvedev is a good player. But keep your pants on, Medfan.
Of course the numbers I certainly gravitate toward here with this AO Final on the horizon, between Daniil and Novak, consist of 1-5, 8-0, 17-0, etc. The 1-5 refers to the Russian’s record in five-setters and you know the 8/17-0: Novak’s record in AO finals and the major tally comparison between these two. Though this doesn’t seem very fair or even relevant to compare their major titles won, given that Medvedev has so little experience, I bring this up with his comments after his SF win over Tstitsipas in mind: he said all of the pressure is on Djokovic. You have to like the balls on this kid, but that’s just silly. Novak is already practically king of the mountain in this sport, his legacy pretty much intact whereas Medvedev is pretty much a Bo5 bonehead as far as Mcshow is concerned. The majors are the crux of the matter in professional tennis (hell, Masters used to be Bo5 when men were men). He won his first five setter at this year’s Australian Open.
Which leads us to our prognostication. Djokovic should win this match. Here’s how he does that (this will sound a bit like the plan for Tsitsipas, but we’re talking here about Novak, so not so much of a stretch, at all).
Novak is leading the 2021 Australian Open in aces (at least he was a few days ago). This is a remarkable stat. We’ve talked about his improved serve, as far back as 2018 Wimbledon. If he serves well, which means he puts Daniil under pressure, which means HOLDS serve very well, Medvedev then has to deal with the Serb’s ROS genius. If you can’t break Novak, your job just gets that much more impossible.
The other point that we did not quite emphasize enough in our Tsitsipas/Medvedv SF (though we flushed this out in our post-match analysis), we’re clarifying now: Novak has to hit slices to this 6′ 6″ bloke; and hit some short which have the added advantage of brining him in. Same points me made about Tsitsipas’ failure to have a plan. Novak can trade blows with the Russian, but some variety will pay dividends. We already referenced the Federer approach to Medvedev. This is a no-brainer.
Finally, take this match deep into the night, Novak. Very few seem to be talking about this advantage. Here’s a nice little contradiction: Medvedev wants to extend the point and show-off his amazing defensive/retriever skills, out digging and out hitting his opponent, running them into the ground; yet he wants to shorten the match.
One thing we know about Novak is he’s one of the greatest Bo5 warriors this sport has ever seen. Add to that his athleticism, defensive skills, improved offense, unbelievable clutch, and the improving (and pretty dominant) serve — tall order for the tall Russian.
But this is why they play the match. Medvedev could have another sterling night. He might hit lines and first serves all night, take command of the court, the crowd and the moment. Something, indeed, has to give here. I think the Russian’s current win streak dating back to the 2020 Paris Masters is 20-0 (something like that). Novak is 8-0 in Aussie finals.
Good luck to both men.
Enjoy the tennis.