Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change
It’s an overused paradox, but what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Tennis fans around the world will find out Sunday as eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic faces off against the most confident man in tennis, Daniil Medvedev.
On the one hand you have Djokovic, who owns a 63-3 record in Melbourne since 2011. On the other hand, you have Medvedev, who will ride a 20-match win streak into the final, accompanied by 11 consecutive wins over Top-10 players, Djokovic included. Medvedev is one of the few players who can administer Djokovic a taste of his own medicine.
Grand Slam glory is on the line, but so is the unofficial title of the best backhand in the world. At 6-4, 6-2, 2-0 against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Medvedev had committed just two unforced errors on his backhand wing.
Shots like this one add an extra element to Medvedev’s game. Most players would hit a forehand here, but Medvedev runs around and scoops a low backhand, painting it on the baseline.
20 shots later, the point would end with Medvedev snuffing out a bail-out drop-shot attempt. Medvedev frustrates opponents with looks and patterns they’ve never experienced before.
Medvedev has an almost supernatural ability in knowing where his racquet face is at all times. You would never teach a beginner to strike a ball like Medvedev, but then again, his talent and timing can’t be taught.
On this play, Medvedev pins Tsitsipas in the backhand corner, then steps up in the court to strike an inside-out forehand winner.
Medvedev sets up the same exact pattern on the very next point, but this time he rips his forehand inside-in. His unpredictability is nauseating for opponents.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, this match is essentially a pick-em, with the Serb listed as a slight -115 favorite. Seeing as Djokovic was +120 to win the tournament two weeks ago, -115 is a great price for someone who is also a perfect 8-0 in Australian Open finals.
When it’s all said and done, Djokovic’s return will likely go down as the best ever. He found success against Medvedev at the 2020 ATP Cup by applying immediate pressure on his return.
If Djokovic puts on another return-of-serve clinic, he should be able to sink his teeth deep into Medvedev’s service games. This could cause the Russian to tense up, and perhaps go for too much too early in the point.
But one year removed from his ATP Cup loss, Medvedev is playing with more confidence than anyone on tour, highlighted by this impossibly good backhand passing shot against Tsitsipas.
This may have been the shot of the tournament. Just like Djokovic, Medvedev is also a contortionist.
No player is better equipped to defeat the world No. 1 right now than the Medvedev, but betting against Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena is a lot like betting against Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. It's just not a good idea.
Medvedev’s recent dominance has provided a rare opportunity to bet on Djokovic at nearly even money. The safe bet is the over 39.5 game total, but I'm not turning down Djokovic at -115 in a match he has never lost before.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic, Over 39.5 total games
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (MI/NJ/PA/WV), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-888-532-3500 (VA) or call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN).
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/MI/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.