Djokovic shares a joke with Medvedev following their men’s singles AO Final battle.

The Baseline Awards are back with a look at the noteworthy accomplishments of 2021.

In 2019—the year he reached his first Grand Slam final and made the top 10—Daniil Medvedev defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in two of their three encounters, solidifying his status as one of the game’s promising stars.

The pair split their two matches in 2020, setting the stage for a continuance of their budding rivalry in 2021, when their contests carried historic implications.

At this year’s Australian Open, Djokovic, the two-time defending champion and top seed, had to scrape and claw his way to the championship round—at least by his standards: The Serb only won two of his first six matches in straight sets. Meanwhile, on the bottom half of the draw, Medvedev won five of his six contests in straights. In the third round, the Russian was pushed to the distance against Filip Krajinovic, but in a demonstration of his dominance, clinched the deciding set 6-0. Momentum was definitely on the side of the fourth seed, but Djokovic’s experience and never-say-die attitude carried him through to his 18th career major and ninth title in Melbourne.

The two didn’t meet again until the summer at the US Open, and at that point, it had been quite the year for both players. Djokovic entered the year’s last major as the titleholder at the other three Slams, while Medvedev had worked his way up to a career-high No. 2 in the world. Once again, both players found themselves across the net from each other in a major final. However, this time it would be Medvedev who had the upper hand as he beat the Serb in straight sets to claim the biggest title of his career.


By the time the regular tour season began to wind down, Medvedev had gotten to a point where he could actually wrest the top spot in the rankings away from Djokovic. At the Paris Masters, the last major regular-season tournament, the two squared off in a final once again. After dropping the first set, Djokovic went on to claim the next two to clinch the title.

Finishing as the top two players in the world, Djokovic and Medvedev’s three encounters carried plenty of weight behind them in 2021. Next year, they’ll have to contend with a driven Zverev, a returning Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, and a slew of other challengers as they try to distance themselves from the pack once again.