With a winning overhead volley, walking slightly backwards, Novak Djokovic moved forward in the Grand Slam record books with his 18th major and ninth Australian Open, defeating Daniil Medvedev, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.
Here's how it happened:
Media after the match
"Novak was unbeatable tonight."
"The king of Melbourne Park."
These were just some of the descriptions of Djokovic after his straight-sets win, and they probably still don't do him justice.
Let's go to the GIFs:
Then, it was time for Medvedev's speech:
"We used to spend a lot of practice time together, in Monaco. You don't call me as much these last few years."
Djokovic and Medvedev had a chuckle at this comment from the champion, and why not? There was nothing else left to do after such a clinical performance.
There was only one thing left to say:
"I would like to thank this court. I would like to thank Rod Laver Arena, I love you more and more each year."
Third set: Djokovic wins, 6-2
9:39 PM: With a winning overhead volley, walking slightly backwards, Novak Djokovic moves forward in the Grand Slam record books with his 18th major and ninth Australian Open, defeating Daniil Medvedev, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.
9:33 PM: Medvedev holds, then digs into a return game. With nothing to lose, he hits some of his flattest and best shots of the match. At 15-30, Djokovic hits a wide serve, unreturned. At 30-30, Djokovic hits a deep strike after a short rally that Medvedev can't keep in play.
And at 40-30, Djokovic wins a backhand-to-backhand exchange that seems like it will never end—until Medvedev finally puts one into the next. You couldn't have asked for much more from Medvedev that game—yet he needed so much more.
9:26 PM: 4-1, Djokovic, who isn't fazed by Medvedev's mini-stand. If Djokovic wins, the Big Three will have won 57 of the last 68 majors, and 58 of the last 70.
9:21 PM: Medvedev gets on the board. In the penultimate point of the game, Medvedev somehow pulls off a great get, earning applause from the crowd and Djokovic. (GIF ALERT:)
9:17 PM: 3-0, Djokovic. One-way traffic.
9:14 PM: Medvedev falls behind 15-30 after a going for a big second serve and double faulting. He makes Djokovic play the rest of the way, but the top seed takes it with a stretch backhand that Daniil can't volley back. 2-0 Djokovic.
9:10 PM: Like the second set, Medvedev earns break points in the first game. But this time he can't convert on any. 1-0 Djokovic.
I still think Medvedev has another push in him—and the proverbial finish line can get to any player, even Djokovic—but this fast-tracking on the way to a blowout.
Second set: Djokovic wins, 6-2
9:03 PM: For such a one-sided score, Medvedev had plenty of opportunities in this set. But he squandered nearly all of them, and Djokovic's blistering service return at 30-40, right at Medvedev's feet, was a fitting way to end it.
At the 2019 US Open, Medvedev lost the first two sets to Nadal, 7-5, 6-3. He won the next two. It's hard to envision that happening again, at this moment, but he'll have that experience to lean back on, at the very least.
9:00 PM: After a Medvedev hold, he gets to 0-15. With a great chance to get to 0-30, Medvedev hits two balls right at Djokovic, caught at net, and then—unable to pass him—hits a third into the net. Djokovic is now 11 for 11 at net.
Medvedev reaches deuce, but Djokovic serves out the game for 5-2. That seems like it'll be the set, but we'll see.
GIF ALERT: Medvedev's racquet goes down, and it's a racquet no more.
8:52 PM: 4-1, Djokovic. Getting late early?
8:49 PM: Medvedev's level has dropped significantly. Errors leaking, even on his signature backhand. Djokovic has won three straight games from 1-0 down.
8:39 PM: Followed by an even greater letdown from Medvedev, who really needed to hold serve. He won't be afforded many openings from the all-time great, and now the set is back on serve, 1-1.
8:35 PM: A letdown from Djokovic, as Medvedev breaks for 1-0.
First set: Djokovic wins, 7-5
8:28 PM: You could tell that Djokovic was locked in from the very first point: a medium-length rally terminated with a down-the-line forehand winner. A sharp service return and low slice half-volley, culminating with a Medvedev error, earned Djokovic 0-30—and a backhand pass down the line (after a helpful Medvedev let cord) gave the Serb three set points.
It looked as if Medvedev might save them all; he won the first two quickly, with strong serving. At 30-40, he got another first serve in. But Djokovic kept the return in play, and Medvedev's rushed forehand found the net.
At the match's most critical moment (thus far), Djokovic raised his level. We've heard that one before.
GIF ALERT: Djokovic reveres Pete Sampras, and while this running overhead wasn't exactly Pistol-esque, it's a worthy homage:
8:24 PM: And Djokovic responds with a love hold of his own. Very high levels of play from both men thus far.
8:21 PM: Pretty good response! Medvedev holds at love for 5-5.
8:18 PM: A pair of holds—the fourth consecutive, combined—and Medvedev must now hold if he wants to stay in the set, at 4-5. The moment hasn't been too much for him so far, but we've yet to see him face substantial pressure. Here's our first look.
8:10 PM: Djokovic stems the tide with a hold at 15. Medvedev to serve at 3-4.
8:06 PM: A love hold for Medvedev and it's 3-3, with each player having strung together three consecutive games.
8:03 PM: Two poor errors and one poor made shot from Djokovic help Medvedev earn his first break First, the Serb hit a drop-shot attempt short of the net to end an perhaps the match's best rally so far. Shortly after, down break point, Djokovic came to net for an overhead. It didn't have enough pace or angle on it, and Medvedev tracked it down, hitting a deep, crosscourt lob that put the No. 1 in an awkward position. His overhead reply landed in the net, and Medvedev will serve at 2-3.
7:59 PM: Medvedev gets on the board with a hold; Djokovic will serve at 3-1. There's plenty of support for the Russian in the stands, with one of the most sizable crowds of the entire tournament—along with many Djokovic fans, of course.
7:55 PM (local time): The first break of the final goes to Djokovic, as does the first consolidating hold. It's 3-0 to the champ.
Media before the match
The coin toss: