Novak Djokovic has become the most decorated player in Masters 1000 history after fighting back to defeat Daniil Medvedev in an enthralling encounter at the Paris Masters.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was forced to produce some of his finest tennis to oust the Russian 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, after more than two hours of pulsating play. Throughout the final a total of 64 winners was produced with 38 of those from Djokovic who sealed the year-end No.1 spot on Saturday. Furthermore, he won 79% of first service points and converted five out of his six break point opportunities.
“It’s a special win with both of my kids watching the entire match (from the stands) for the first time,” Djokovic told TennisTV.
“What a match. It was an incredible fight all the way until the last shot. I knew it takes the best effort to get a win against Daniil who is in tremendous form. He beat me quite comfortably in the final of New York (US Open) so I learned my lesson, analysed that match and tried to do things better on the court today. Especially in the second and third. I’m very pleased with how I played.”
The Paris showdown between the two highest ranked players in the world was full of intrigue. Heading into their latest clash, Medvedev trailed Djokovic in their head-to-head but boasted a unique statistic. Out of 82 players to have played the Serbian multiple times whilst he is ranked No.1, he is the only one to have a winning record (4-2) and won their most recent meeting in the final of the US Open.
Taking on Djokovic, who was eager to get revenge, the opening set was a rollercoaster encounter for the world No.2 with continuous changes in momentum. The Russian got off to a dream start by breaking in the opening game to move to a 2-0 lead. However, a resilient Djokovic battled back to level 2-2. Medvedev regained his stronghold in the match three games later when a masterful dropshot enabled him to break once again as he closed in on taking the first set. Leading 5-3, a loose Djokovic shot landed out to hand Medvedev his first set point. He was able to convert after blasting a serve out wide which his opponent returned out.
Cheered on by what was a boisterous crowd in the French capital, a determined Djokovic fought back in the second frame to revive his chances of claiming yet another Paris trophy. A surge in intensity saw the top seed display his sublime defensive skills which forced Medvedev to leak two consecutive errors that enabled him to break for a 3-1 lead. However, taking the match into a decider was far from straightforward. Serving at a 5-3, Djokovic survived a nail-biting five-deuce game which featured some extraordinary hitting. After fending off a trio of break points and then failing to convert two set points of his own, Djokovic finally prevailed with an ace down the centre of the court.
Six games away from the title, the match wasn’t just a physical test, it was a mental challenge too. Continuing his momentum Djokovic wrong footed his nemesis as he broke for a 3-2 lead. It appears that he had broken Medvedev who started to produce more erratic shots and grew increasingly frustrated. Best illustrated by the code violation he received for ball abuse after getting broken for a second time to go down 5-2.
However, closing out the match was far from easy for Djokovic. The nerves started to take their toll as a lacklustre service game resulted to Medvedev retrieving one of those breaks. However, Djokovic still managed to find a way to cross the finish line in the following game as he hit a clear forehand winner to seal victory.
“This is developing into a great rivalry, especially this season,” Djokovic commented. “We played some important matches and great finals. Australian Open, US Open and here in Bercy. Hopefully we get to meet in some more finals.”
Djokovic has now overtaken Rafael Nadal for the most Masters titles ever won at 37. He has also become the first man in history to have won the Paris trophy for a sixth time. Against Medvedev, he now leads their overall head-to-head 6-4.
“I came here (to Paris) with the goal to clinch the year-end No.1. I managed to do that yesterday (Saturday). Today I didn’t have as much pressure so I swung through the ball a bit more and felt a bit more relaxed on the court. It served its purpose and worked well,” he concluded.
The 34-year-old will return to action in a week’s time at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round
The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.
Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.
The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.
” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.
Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.
However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.
The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.
The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.
The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.
Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.
After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.
” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.
Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.
Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon
For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.
Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.
The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.
The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.
It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.
The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.
The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.
The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.
For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.
Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.
‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open
Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.
World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.
Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.
“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.
A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.
O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.
“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”
Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.
“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”
Australian Open Daily Preview: The Round of 16 Concludes on Monday
Italian perfection as Matteo Berrettini outlines Australian Open title credentials
Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares to reach the quarter final in the Australian Open doubles tournament
After Fairytale Breakthrough, Barbora Krejcikova Reaches New Highs At Australian Open
Madison Keys reaches the quarter finals at the Australian Open for the third time
Novak Djokovic To Be Deported From Australia After Court Appeal Fails
Novak Djokovic ‘Trying’ To Get To The Australian Open, Says Lajovic
Novak Djokovic To Play Australian Open
REPORT: Novak Djokovic Denied Entry Into Australia After Visa Mix-Up
‘An Error Of Judgement’ – Novak Djokovic Admits He Broke Covid-19 Rules To Attend Photoshoot
US Open, Steve Flink: “Djokovic’s loss had more to do with fatigue than pressure”
US Open, Steve Flink on the Murray-Tsitsipas Controversy
(VIDEO) Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin Del Potro Gathering Momentum In Comeback Bids
Steve Flink On Wimbledon: “Bautista Agut would be a tough semifinal test for Djokovic”
Wimbledon, Flink: “Djokovic Will Beat Zverev in the Final”
Focus2 days ago
Rafael Nadal Praises ‘Aggressive’ Tennis And Casts Doubt Over Foot Injury After Australian Open Win
Hot Topics15 hours ago
Alexander Zverev Brands Australian Open Defeat As ‘One Of His Worst’ Performances In Recent Time
Focus3 days ago
Amanda Anisimova Knocks Out Naomi Osaka In Australian Open Thriller To Reach Last 16
ATP3 days ago
Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round
Focus2 days ago
Alize Cornet Praises ‘Amazing’ Birthday Victory After Reaching Last 16 In Melbourne
Focus2 days ago
Australian Open: Italy’s Matteo Berrettini edges past talented Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in five sets
Hot Topics3 days ago
Paula Badosa Ousts ‘Good Friend’ Kostyuk In Australian Open Roller-Coaster
Hot Topics3 days ago
Maria Sakkari Hits Back At Critics Of Covid-19 Testing Protocols At Australian Open