Novak Djokovic believes he silenced his critics by triumphing at the Australian Open after finishing the tournament with a torn oblique muscle. 

Djokovic clinched a record-extending ninth Australian Open title and 18th major overall with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 thrashing of Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev on Sunday. 

The Serbian faced criticism before the tournament over a list of requests for players who were in quarantine due to coronavirus, while also being questioned over the severity of the oblique injury suffered during a third-round win over Taylor Fritz. 

Djokovic felt the backlash was unfair, but believes he answered in the best way possible by winning the title in Melbourne again. 

"Of course, it's not nice to hear that. I mean, it also seems unfair from some people that kind of criticise and judge without really checking before," the world number one told a news conference. 

"But as I said, it's not really the first time. I have so much experience with this because it happened so many times in my life, in my career, that I experience that. It will probably not be the last one. 

"Look, at the end of the day everyone who has the stage has the right to say what they want to say. It's a matter on my side whether I'm going to react or not, in which way I'm going to react. I didn't allow it to hinder my performance. I think winning the trophy is in a way my answer."

After taking a two-sets-to-love lead against Fritz, Djokovic suffered the oblique injury. He was forced to a decider by the American before eventually managing to advance. 

Djokovic said afterwards he had torn a muscle and may need to pull out of the tournament, although was unwilling to give too much away as the event went on. 

The 33-year-old, though, said after his win on Sunday that he had torn his abdominal oblique muscle. 

"It is a tear, a muscle tear, of the abdominal oblique muscle. I felt it right away when it happened against Fritz in the third round. That's what I said in the post-match interview. I was kind of guessing, but I felt just that it's a tear because of the snap and the way I felt after that," Djokovic said. 

"I know there's been a lot of speculation, people questioning whether I'm injured, how can I recover so quickly, it's impossible to do that. I get it. I mean, look, everyone is entitled for their own opinion, and everybody has the freedom and the right to say what they want, criticise others. I just felt like it was a bit unfair at times. But, hey, it's not the first nor the last time. 

"What we have done in the past nine, 10 days, you'll get a chance to see in detail probably at the end of this year when the documentary comes out.   

"I've been filming a lot of things that I've been doing here, but also in the previous months, six months. We're planning to take that documentary out end of this year. You will be able to see more of the routine of recovery, stuff that was going on behind the curtain."

Daniil Medvedev entered the Australian Open final in red-hot form and with a strong recent record against Novak Djokovic – yet he still fell well short.

Djokovic's record-extending ninth Australian Open title and 18th major overall came in comprehensive fashion with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 thrashing of Medvedev at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak that included 12 victories over top-10 players, including Djokovic - who he had beaten in three of their previous four meetings. Still, the Russian was still dismantled.

Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have now won 10 of the past 11 grand slams. The other was Dominic Thiem's success last year at the US Open, where Djokovic stunningly defaulted in the fourth round and Nadal and Roger Federer were absent.

The 'Big Four' became the 'Big Three' following Andy Murray's injury woes, and that may now be the 'Big Two'.

Federer shares the men's grand slam record with Nadal on 20, but the last of those for the Swiss great came in 2018 and the 39-year-old has missed the past three majors.

Djokovic, 33, and Nadal, 34, have shown few signs of slowing down. With the Serbian dominating in Melbourne and the Spaniard continuing to own Roland Garros, they seem to have at least one grand slam each locked away every year.

After his loss on Sunday, Medvedev said of the trio of greats: "Nothing else to say than they are undoubtedly, I don't think anyone can argue with this, the three biggest names in tennis history. I'm talking only about results. I'm not talking off court, game. I'm talking about results. What they did in tennis is unbelievable for me.

"I'm 25 now. To win nine Australian Opens, I need to win every year until I'm 34. I mean, I believe in myself, but I don't think I'm able to do it. Same with Rafa. I mean, 13 Roland Garros... We're talking about some cyborgs of tennis in a good way. They're just unbelievable.

"When I'm out there, I'm not thinking, 'Okay, they are too strong for me.' I always want to win. I beat some of them in some big tournaments, like London [the ATP Finals] for example. I just need to be better next time in the grand slam finals against these two guys or Roger."

Thiem took his chance and landed a major at Flushing Meadows, while he has shaped as the most likely successor to Nadal in Paris, where he lost finals in 2018 and 2019. Medvedev has found his rhythm and Sunday's defeat was his second in a major decider.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2020 US Open runner-up Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini look like potential threats, while Canadian pair Denis Shapovalov, 21, and Felix Auger-Aliassime, 20, continue improving.

But Medvedev looked more than capable of ending Djokovic's incredible record in Melbourne before falling well short, showing potential challengers they still have a way to go if they are to finally stop the all-time greats.

Daniil Medvedev rued a below-par performance after his Australian Open final loss to Novak Djokovic.

In his second grand slam decider, Medvedev was well beaten 7-5 6-2 6-2 by Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday, seeing his 20-match winning streak ended.

Medvedev had his chances against the world number one, but Djokovic stepped up in key moments to win a record-extending ninth Australian Open title.

The Russian fourth seed felt his performance was average in the final as he mixed 24 winners with 30 unforced errors.

"I don't like to lose matches. Doesn't matter if it's a first round or a final of a grand slam. Of course, it's just that feeling that you're closer to hold the trophy than when you lose the first round," Medvedev told a news conference.

"Talking about the match, it's tough, just when you lost to reconsider straightaway. But I feel like it's the kind of matches I won throughout this tournament that he won today.

" I was there in the first set, I was up a break in the second, but in the end I lost in three sets where I didn't play bad but I didn't play my best level. Probably he made his game that good today that I couldn't stay at my best level.

"Yeah, I obviously thought about [Andrey] Rublev and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, both amazing top-10 players, and I won with a similar score where they were playing good, but I felt like I was better. So today was the case for Novak.

"I cannot say much better than this. He was better than me today. I could have done things for sure better today, but I didn't manage to. That's why I don't have the trophy."

Medvedev recovered from 3-0 down to draw level in the first set before being broken in the 12th game, while he gave up a break lead in the second.

The 25-year-old was unsure whether his performance was down to a bad day, or Djokovic's display.

"That's where it's tough to say because I don't know 100 per cent. I feel like I for sure could have played better. Especially looking at the matches where I played him," Medvedev said.

"At the same time there is always a question maybe he was not that good the other matches I played him because it's always day by day. You know the question is how did he manage to win here nine times out of nine? Probably all the nine times he was better than his opponent.

"I don't have an answer to this question. He definitely was good. I definitely could have done better. But even if I would have done better, doesn't mean that the score would be different.

"Today we have this score. I'm the loser; he's the winner. That's the point."

Daniil Medvedev was gracious in defeat to an inspired Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open final on Sunday.

A contest billed as a potential classic was over in one hour and 53 minutes as Djokovic claimed a ninth title in Melbourne and 18th career major.

The world number one, who lost to Medvedev at the ATP Finals last year, triumphed 7-5 6-2 6-2 to extend his record to nine victories and zero defeats in the final of this tournament and close to within two grand slams of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Medvedev was disappointed he could not prolong the contest but had nothing but praise for Djokovic on and off the court, a player he described as "a god to me".

The Russian said: "I first practiced with Novak when I was like 500 or 600 in the world in Monaco and he was already number one, he'd just won Wimbledon. I thought, 'There's no way he's gonna speak to me.' The guy was a god to me.

"I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He's never changed, whether I'm 600 in the world or four in the world, he's always been a great sport and a great friend.

"I really wanted to make this match longer and more entertaining for you. Today was not the day."

Djokovic was similarly full of praise for Medvedev, who had been on a 20-match winning streak heading into the final.

The Serbian fully expects Medvedev to become a major winner in future, although he hopes to add a few more to his collection first.

"You're a class act, a great guy," Djokovic said. "We used to spend more time together. You're not calling me any more in the last few years! But it's nice you're thinking good things about me.

"I really like Daniil off the court, but on the court, he's definitely one of the toughest players I faced in my life. It's a matter of time before you're holding a grand slam, for sure, if you don't mind waiting a few years!"

After a difficult build-up to the tournament, in which Djokovic lobbied for an easing of certain restrictions on players forced to quarantine in hotels after arriving in Australia, he credited authorities for ensuring a smooth running of events in Melbourne.

"There are a lot mixed feelings about what happened in the last month or so, but I think in the end it was a successful tournament for everyone," he said.

"It wasn't easy, it was very challenging on many different levels, but they [Tennis Australia] should be proud of themselves for what they put together and allowing us to come to Australia.

"I'd like to thank the Rod Laver Arena. I love you each year more and more. The love affair keeps going."

Novak Djokovic continued his dominance of the Australian Open, winning the grand slam for a record ninth time on Sunday.

The Serbian star claimed his 18th grand slam crown with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 dismantling of Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Djokovic became just the second man to win a major at least nine times, with only Rafael Nadal (13 French Open titles) also managing that feat.

We take a look back at all of his Australian Open successes.

2008 – A maiden grand slam title

Aged 20, this was Djokovic's fourth main-draw appearance in Melbourne and his previous best had been the fourth round the year prior.

But he produced a flying run to the final, beating Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets in the last 16 and top seed Federer in the semis.

Djokovic, the third seed, was left with a surprise opponent in the final and he made the most of his chance, coming from a set down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

It was the first grand slam since the 2005 Australian Open not won by either Federer or Nadal.

2011 – The beginning of complete Melbourne dominance

Djokovic had to wait three years for his second title in Melbourne, but it started a wonderful run of dominance.

He was largely untouchable again on his way to the final, including wins over top-10 seeds Tomas Berdych and Federer.

Djokovic crushed Andy Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3 in the decider to win the first of an incredible three grand slams in 2011.

 

2012 – Coming through two epics

This would be a major best remembered for two matches – Djokovic's semi and final.

He took almost five hours to get past Murray in the last four in a match that seemed certain to ruin his chances in the decider.

Somehow, Djokovic came through that too, beating Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 in the longest Open Era grand slam final, which went for a gruelling five hours, 53 minutes.

2013 – Hat-trick complete

Djokovic extended his winning streak at the Australian Open to 21 matches with a third straight title.

He became the first man in the Open Era to win a hat-trick of titles in Melbourne.

Djokovic took five hours to get past Stan Wawrinka – the man who would break his run the following year – in the fourth round before again beating Murray in a final.

 

2015 – Another Wawrinka marathon, another Murray final

Fernando Verdasco and Milos Raonic were unable to stop Djokovic and, this time, Wawrinka failed too.

Djokovic beat the Swiss star in a five-set semi-final before a familiar face stood between him and another title.

Murray managed to split the first two sets, but Djokovic ran away with it from there 6-3 6-0 for a fifth crown.

2016 ­– Record equalled after Simon scare

It was the fourth round that proved to be the biggest scare in Djokovic's bid for a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title.

But he got through another gruelling five-setter, this time against French 14th seed Gilles Simon.

Kei Nishikori, Federer and Murray were unable to stop him from there as Djokovic joined Roy Emerson on six Australian Open crowns.
 

2019 – Record claimed in flawless fashion

For a six-time champion and the world number one, this seemed like a quiet run by Djokovic.

He dispatched of up-and-comers Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev, spent less than an hour on court with an exhausted Nishikori and was almost flawless against Lucas Pouille.

Only Nadal stood between him and a record seventh Australian Open title in a repeat of their epic 2012 final.

And Djokovic may have saved his best performance for the final, dismantling Nadal in just over two hours.

2020 – Thiem test survived to close in on Federer, Nadal

Djokovic entered the tournament on the back of six impressive singles wins at the ATP Cup.

After a brief first-round hiccup against Jan-Lennard Struff, Djokovic cruised into the quarter-finals.

He continued his dominance of Milos Raonic with a 10th win in as many meetings with the Canadian and then brushed a hurt Federer aside.

Thiem, playing his third major final, was a huge test, but Djokovic survived after almost four hours to extend his record in Melbourne. It was his 17th major title, moving closer to the tallies of Federer (20) and Nadal (19), as he reclaimed the number one ranking.

2021 – Injury threatens run before powerful finish

It was a largely uneventful start for Djokovic before suffering a suspected abdominal injury in the third round against Taylor Fritz.

He looked at risk of defeat despite taking the first two sets as Fritz fought back, but Djokovic looked healthy again in the fifth to win through.

Djokovic beat Raonic for the 12th straight time and then overcame Alexander Zverev, before finding good form in a semi-final thrashing of qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

He dropped five sets in his opening six matches, the most he has lost prior to the final in the 28 occasions he has made the decider at a slam.

Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak heading into the final, but Djokovic stepped up on the court he loves.

Novak Djokovic secured his 18th grand slam title with a resounding straight-sets win over Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final on Sunday.

The Serbian star closed to within two major crowns of men's record holders Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after impressively beating Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 in one hour, 53 minutes in cool conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic, who suffered a suspected abdominal injury earlier in the tournament, showed just why he is the king of Melbourne, where he clinched a record-extending ninth Australian Open title.

The world number one produced a classic display of returning and again stepped up in key moments, in contrast to Medvedev.

Carrying a 20-match winning streak into the decider, Medvedev – playing his second grand slam final – made errors at important stages despite holding his own from the baseline for large parts against an opponent he had beaten in three of their previous four meetings.

Medvedev made a nervous and wayward start and was broken in the second game, but he quickly responded, pulling the break back in the fifth game, one marked by a grinding baseline exchange at 15-30 before Djokovic put an overhead into the net.

Both players held with relative comfort until Djokovic landed the key blow to take the first set, the Serbian fans in Rod Laver Arena rising to their feet after Medvedev sent a forehand into the net.

The pair traded breaks again to begin the second set, this time Djokovic recovering from dropping serve, and he won four straight games after Medvedev faltered in a sloppy fourth game.

Djokovic produced a tough hold for 5-2, a moment that led to an increasingly frustrated Medvedev – struggling to come up with answers – to smash his racquet at the back of the court before losing the second set.

Medvedev squandered another chance as Djokovic dug himself out of a 15-40 hole in the opening game of the third set and then broke, the Russian netting a volley after a wild double fault.

In yet another key moment, Djokovic held from 15-30 in the seventh game in front of a crowd baying for more tennis, before going on to see out his historic success.

 

Data Slam: History for the king of Melbourne

Djokovic's ninth Australian Open title saw him become just the second man to win a major at least nine times. He joined Nadal, who has owned the French Open with 13 titles. That pair have won 10 of the past 11 grand slam crowns, as the 'Big Three', or 'Big Two', continue their dominance.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 20/17
Medvedev – 24/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 3/2
Medvedev – 6/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 7/11
Medvedev – 2/4

Daniil Medvedev goes into Sunday's Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic in incredible form.

The Russian star extended his winning streak to 20 matches with a straight-sets victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals on Friday.

Medvedev became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20 matches. He is the sixth active player to manage the feat, joining Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro.

The 25-year-old's run has not only been utterly dominant, but also included some rather impressive wins.

Of his 20 victories, 12 have come against top-10 players, including Djokovic. Since November, Medvedev has beaten every other member of the top 10 except Federer, who has been out of action.

"It's great to know this. It's a pity that Roger is not playing. I would love to have played him. I'm not saying anything. I just would love to play against him. I mean, to play against Roger is always a privilege. Against Novak, Rafa, Roger," Medvedev said after his win over Tsitsipas.

"But it's great to hear this. I mean, happy about myself, because I remember one moment when I was already playing quite good I actually was struggling with the top-10 guys when I was maybe around top 20 or top 30.

"It's great to hear this and I'm really happy about it."

Along with Djokovic and Nadal, Medvedev's run has also included wins over Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev (three times), Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini and Tsitsipas.

In his 20-match streak, Medvedev has won 44 sets and lost just seven, and two of those were in his five-set victory over Filip Krajinovic in the third round.

Medvedev has won three of his past four meetings with Djokovic, who edges their overall head-to-head 4-3.

His run will have Medvedev full of confidence as he bids to win a first grand slam title, needing to overcome the record eight-time champion in Melbourne to do so.

Novak Djokovic will take the advantage of having an extra day's rest into the Australian Open final against the red-hot Daniil Medvedev.

Djokovic is set to compete in his 28th grand slam final and ninth in Melbourne as the Serbian star eyes an 18th major title on Sunday.

The 33-year-old looked in good form in a semi-final thrashing of Aslan Karatsev on Thursday – 24 hours before Medvedev impressively dispatched of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

For the second year in a row, Djokovic will have an extra day's rest over his opponent ahead of the decider.

Since 2000, players who have had the extra day's rest have won 12 and lost nine of the 21 finals. Djokovic has had the slight advantage four times – and four times he has not – and won all eight finals.

Given he has battled a suspected abdominal injury at this year's tournament, the additional day could be an important factor for Djokovic.

He faces Medvedev, who is on a 20-match winning streak that has included 12 victories over top-10 players.

The latest of those was a 6-4 6-2 7-5 mauling of Tsitsipas in their semi-final on Friday.

A key for Medvedev in that success, in which he endured a third-set blip, was that it came in two hours, nine minutes.

Since 2000, men who won the second semi-final in less than three hours are 6-5 in deciders. That record drops to 3-7 when the last-four clash has exceeded three hours.

Of the three that have managed it after marathon wins, Djokovic achieved it twice – in 2012 and 2015, while Rafael Nadal was the other in 2009, when he beat Roger Federer in the final after winning an epic against Fernando Verdasco.

It leaves the extra day's rest likely to be less of a factor on Sunday as both men chase history.

Entering Australian Open final with an extra day's rest since 2000
2020: Novak Djokovic (won against Dominic Thiem)
2019: Rafael Nadal (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2018: Marin Cilic (lost against Roger Federer)
2017: Roger Federer (won against Rafael Nadal)
2016: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2015: Andy Murray (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2014: Stan Wawrinka (won against Rafael Nadal)
2013: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2012: Rafael Nadal (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2011: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2010: Andy Murray (lost against Roger Federer)
2009: Roger Federer (lost against Rafael Nadal)
2008: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2007: Roger Federer (won against Fernando Gonzalez)
2006: Marcos Baghdatis (lost against Roger Federer)
2005: Marat Safin (won against Lleyton Hewitt)
2004: Marat Safin (lost against Roger Federer)
2003: Andre Agassi (won against Rainer Schuttler)
2002: Thomas Johansson (won against Marat Safin)
2001: Andre Agassi (won against Arnaud Clement)
2000: Andre Agassi (won against Yevgeny Kafelnikov)
Wins: 12 Losses: 9

Daniil Medvedev believes he has "nothing to lose" in Sunday's Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic.

Medvedev reached his second grand slam decider after an impressive 6-4 6-2 7-5 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in their last-four clash in Melbourne on Friday.

The Russian fourth seed became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20 as he continued his incredible form.

Medvedev said in an on-court interview all the pressure in the final would be on Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open a record eight times.

Despite seeking his maiden grand slam crown, the 25-year-old – who has won three of his past four meetings with Djokovic – said he had nothing to lose in the final.

"I think he's the favourite because he didn't lose. In eight occasions that he was here in the semis he won the tournament. Me, I'm, how you can call it, I don't know how you call it in English, not an outsider, but I'm the challenger, the guy that challenges the guy who was eight times in the final and won eight times. And I'm happy about it," Medvedev told a news conference.

"I like to play against Novak. We have, since the first one when I was ranked 60, we had always tough matches physically, mentally. And he's one of the greatest tennis players in the history of tennis. So playing the final against him is superb. I'm really happy about it. Let's see what happens on Sunday.

"When I say no pressure, for sure when we get out there we both feel pressure. I want to win my first one. He wants to win number 18. We don't know for who the crowd is going to be. It's all the small details.

"I think if we talk in general, well, I have nothing to lose, to be honest."

Medvedev hit 46 winners and 21 unforced errors against Tsitsipas, overcoming a third-set blip to close out his victory.

As the Rod Laver Arena crowd attempted to get Tsitsipas back into the contest, Medvedev claimed a key break in the 11th game of the third set with a tremendous backhand pass down the line, which he celebrated with a dance.

"They [the crowd] were mostly for him, and that was, you know, the moment that I won the match, we should say. Of course you have to serve after, but that was important moment. So I wanted them to recognise me, I would say, because the shot was unbelievable, I think one of my best shots in my career," Medvedev said.

"Actually, my legs were facing the other way of the court because I didn't have time, so I have no idea how I made this, and I was really happy about it."

Stefanos Tsitsipas paid tribute to Daniil Medvedev for his performance in their Australian Open semi-final on Friday.

Medvedev set up a clash against Novak Djokovic in the decider in Melbourne after producing an impressive performance in a 6-4 6-2 7-5 victory over Tsitsipas.

The Russian fourth seed became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20 as he continued his incredible form.

Tsitsipas, who has lost six of seven meetings with Medvedev, credited the 2019 US Open runner-up for his display.

"Everyone saw what just happened out there. I'm the last person you should be asking this," the Greek fifth seed told a news conference.

"I was just focused on my game, and he put out his show. He became Daniil Medvedev for three sets in a row."

Medvedev hammered 46 winners to go with just 21 unforced errors, while dropping serve just once.

He will be aiming for his maiden grand slam title when he faces Djokovic, a player he has beaten in three of their previous four meetings.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see Daniil win the tournament. But, you know, it's a strange scenario," Tsitsipas said.

"I played Rafa [Nadal] here two years ago. I found his performance against me that day phenomenal. I was 100 per cent sure he was gonna win the tournament. And I ended up being wrong.

"Who knows? I don't know. Like, Djokovic is playing well too. Look, I'm not a betting website. I don't know what to say. Might be Medvedev, would be good for him, good for tennis."

Daniil Medvedev produced an impressive performance to outclass Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets and book an Australian Open final meeting with Novak Djokovic.

Medvedev was in irresistible form on Rod Laver Arena, needing just over two hours to get past Tsitsipas 6-4 6-2 7-5 on Friday and move into his second grand slam final.

The Russian fourth seed extended his winning streak to 20 matches heading into Sunday, when he will be aiming to claim his maiden major title.

Tsitsipas, coming off an incredible comeback win over Rafael Nadal in the last eight, had the backing of the Melbourne crowd, but no answers to Medvedev, who won for the sixth time in seven meetings between the pair despite a third-set blip.

After an entertaining but largely uneventful start, Medvedev broke for 3-2, a wonderful backhand winner down the line followed up by Tsitsipas sending a forehand just long.

Medvedev was boosted by the break, holding to love in the next game as Tsitsipas' errors mounted, and the Russian closed out the first set despite an increasingly boisterous crowd urging the Greek on.

The baseline exchanges were being dominated by Medvedev, who broke in the third game of the second set on the back of a whipped forehand winner and another down the line.

Medvedev broke to love in the seventh game and he lost just three points on serve in the second set to take complete control.

He continued to dictate points and hit winners at will, breaking serve again to begin the third set, before a blip – a tame forehand into the net seeing Tsitsipas break back, much to the delight of most fans in Rod Laver Arena.

Medvedev saved a break point in the eighth game with an ace down the T to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd.

He came from 0-30 down to hold for 5-5 in what would prove a key moment, a spectacular backhand pass seeing him break serve – and into a dance – in the following game on his way to victory.

 

Data Slam: Medvedev in magical form ahead of Djokovic final
Medvedev became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20, and he is just the sixth active player to do so, joining Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro. He is also on a 12-match winning streak against top-10 opponents.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Medvedev – 46/21
Tsitsipas – 19/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Medvedev – 17/2
Tsitsipas – 3/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Medvedev – 5/9
Tsitsipas – 1/3

Novak Djokovic believes he is peaking at the perfect time at the Australian Open after feeling the best he has all tournament in the semi-finals.

Djokovic brushed past Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday, reaching his ninth decider in Melbourne.

The Serbian has won the tournament every time he has been to the semi-finals, although worries over a suspected abdominal injury had cast doubt over his ability to win an 18th major title on Sunday.

But Djokovic, who has refused to detail the extent of his injury, said he was hitting top form at the right time ahead of facing either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

"Well, first I want to give credit to Karatsev for a great tournament.  Maybe it wasn't his day today but he had big wins and debut, first grand slam semi-finals. Kudos for a great result," he told a news conference.

"I felt the best I felt so far in the tournament tonight. Physically, mentally, as well. I was hitting the ball very well, mixing the pace. Didn't give him the same looks at all. Always kind of kept him guessing and served well when I needed to get out of the trouble, you know, late in the second set. I'm just very pleased with the performance.

"It came at the right time. Before the last match in a grand slam, couldn't be a better timing for me to play my best tennis. But being in this situation before many times I think helps kind of gather all the necessary elements for me to peak at the right time, which is happening again, which I'm obviously very happy about.

"I'm also happy that I have two days off now. Still recovery is the priority.  I've played enough tennis. I'm feeling great on the court. Regardless of who I face on Sunday, I'm ready for the battle for the toughest match of the tournament, without a doubt."

As Djokovic prepares for his 28th grand slam final, he will face either Medvedev in his second or Tsitsipas in his first.

Djokovic said his incredible record at the Australian Open lifted his confidence, and potentially played on the minds of his opponents.

"Well, of course it contributes to more confidence, prior to coming into the finals knowing that I never lost in the finals or semi-finals just makes me feel more comfortable being on the court," he said.

"But each year is different, although it does have a mental effect on me, maybe on my opponents, I don't know, but on me it does definitely have a positive effect. It's not a decisive factor in the way the match is going to go forward, because as I said, each year is different. Surface is also different. You know, you play against also different opponents. So that's not gonna be decisive factor I think on Sunday.

"Regardless of my great record I think both Tsitsipas and Medvedev will want to get their first grand slam title. I'm sure that they are going to do their best, so I'll be ready for that."

Novak Djokovic ended Aslan Karatsev's dream run to reach his ninth Australian Open final on Thursday.

Djokovic, who has been dealing with an abdominal injury in Melbourne, brushed past qualifier Karatsev 6-3 6-4 6-2 in their semi-final on Rod Laver Arena.

The world number one has won the Australian Open every time he has reached the semi-finals, and he is on track again ahead of facing either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's decider.

Djokovic moved into his 28th grand slam final – a tally bettered only by Roger Federer (31) – as he targets an 18th major title.

Karatsev held his own in the early baseline exchanges and dug himself out of a 0-30 hole in the sixth game.

But he could not deny Djokovic in his next service game, broken to love when he pulled a backhand wide as the Serbian won 10 straight points and the set.

Djokovic broke again in the third game of the second set following a Karatsev double fault, and a fortunate net cord saw him into a 4-1 lead as he took complete control.

Karatsev got one of the breaks back and pushed for the other, but Djokovic – who had won all 19 of his previous meetings with qualifiers at grand slams – closed out the second set.

Just as Karatsev seemed to be working his way back into the contest and the duo exchanged breaks to begin the third, Djokovic took a 3-2 lead as he won the final four games of the match.

 

Data Slam: Age still no barrier for Djokovic
Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to reach three Australian Open finals after turning 30. The 33-year-old has dominated in Melbourne, and his run continues.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 30/14
Karatsev – 24/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 17/2
Karatsev – 6/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 6/7
Karatsev – 2/5

Rafael Nadal insists he was not struggling with injury as he crashed out of the Australian Open but acknowledged a lack of match practice could have contributed to his quarter-final collapse against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 20-time grand slam champion was dealing with a back issue at the start of the tournament, although he managed to advance to the last eight without dropping a set.

That impressive run appeared set to continue as Nadal won the opening two sets against fifth seed Tsitsipas, only for the match to turn on its head after a tie-break in the third

Tsitsipas emerged a 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 winner after just over four hours, becoming only the second player – after Fabio Fognini – to triumph from two sets down against Nadal at a major.

Post-match questions put to Nadal predictably centred on the potential impact of his back woe, but he insisted there was no physical pain on Wednesday.

However, reflecting on "just another story in my tennis career", the Spaniard repeatedly referred to the difficulty of preparing for a tournament amid such problems.

"I think I was in great condition before here," he said. "Then I've been a bit unfortunate for what happened for 20 days, and then I fight back to play, I think, decent tennis.

"Today wasn't enough. It was close, just that's tennis. That's all. That's the sport. One player wins; the other loses.

"Today I lost, so the only thing that I can do is try to be better next time, and today congratulate him."

Claiming the key was instead two costly mini-breaks in the breaker, Nadal added: "I am not complaining much.

"I think physically, it has been a very humid day out there. Physically I was not fantastic but not bad, you know? I was able to fight until the end, and that's it.

"The whole issue is I missed an easy smash at the beginning of the third, an easy forehand with 2-1 in the tie-break, and then another smash in that tie-break.

"That tie-break I made a couple of mistakes that I can't make to win the match. He played well then later. Well done."

Nadal was chasing a record-breaking 21st major championship, yet only one of those triumphs has come in Melbourne – back in 2009.

The 34-year-old has lost four finals, as well as regularly dealing with injury concerns at the first slam of the season.

But asked if he felt "cursed", he responded firmly: "No. No, no, no. That's sport. Sometimes things go well; other times things goes worse.

"Unfortunately for me, in this tournament, I had more injuries than in the others. Then matches that you lose like today against one of the best players of the world is something that happens.

"No, no, no. Not at all feeling unlucky for me and not at all complaining about my luck here in Australia.

"Everyone has what we deserve. Tennis isn't a sport that is fair. I have what I deserved in my career, and over here in Australia I had chances, but I was not able to convert it. That's all. I didn't deserve more."

Use of the word "unlucky" brought a similar response, as Nadal insisted he was not looking for excuses.

"We can find excuses or reasons or maybe this quarantine that we need to be more time in the room than usual, yes, maybe," he said. "But I am not the guy that is going to find excuses on that or going to complain about what happened, no.

"Just accept. I never considered myself an unlucky person at all. It doesn't matter the injuries that I had. I think I am very lucky person.

"The only thing that I can do is just keep going. I put myself in a position, even with the challenges that I faced, that I was in quarter-finals with two sets up, close to being in the semi-finals.

"So, it has been a chance lost, yes, but life continues. I hope to keep having chances. Well, I'm going to keep fighting for it."

Stefanos Tsitsipas struggled to explain how he pulled off a remarkable turnaround against Rafael Nadal to reach the last four of the Australian Open.

The fifth seed had only once before beaten Nadal and was facing a seventh career defeat to the 20-time grand slam champion as he fell two sets behind on Rod Laver Arena.

Instead, Tsitsipas rallied after a third-set tie-break to triumph 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 and advance to a semi-final against Daniil Medvedev.

The Greek joined Fabio Fognini, at the 2015 US Open, as the only players to overturn a two-set deficit to beat Nadal at a major.

Victory had seemed particularly remote as Tsitsipas struggled to make any inroads on Nadal's serve. He won only 10 receiving points across the first two sets - two of those coming courtesy of double faults - and had to wait until the final game before the breaker in the third to add an 11th.

Then, to the victor's bemusement, the match turned, ending Nadal's run of 35 consecutive set wins at grand slams.

"I have no words to describe what has just happened on the court," Tsitsipas said. "My tennis speaks for itself.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to fight at such a high level and leave it out on the court. I started very nervously.

"I don't know what happened after the third set. I flew like a bird and everything worked for me."

Tsitsipas, who made just four unforced errors in the pivotal third set, added: "I focused on staying calm and holding my nerves today. I have failed to do so in some of my matches.

"I stayed calm in the tight moments and I kept everything to myself. I am really happy with the attitude that I showed on the court."

Now Tsitsipas must take on another player he has only previously defeated once, although that win came in his most recent meeting with Medvedev in 2019.

"He plays very well and has been very consistent, with lots of consecutive wins," Tsitsipas said. "I need to recover and have a good ice bath.

"I am looking forward to the match and each match I play here is an opportunity to play my best tennis. It will be amazing to see the crowds again."

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