Tennis

Novak Djokovic exposes grim truth after pitiful Australian Open implosion

All the optimism that accompanied Daniil Medvedev’s arrival in a major final evaporated in just one hour and 53 minutes.

For all those hoping a new name would disrupt the grand slam dominance of tennis’ major players, the wait continues.

Since 2010, only seven male stars have won grand slam titles: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem.

Murray and Wawrinka have six majors between them in that time, Thiem and Cilic have one apiece and the rest have been shared between the Big Three.

Plenty expected Medvedev — riding high on a 20-match winning streak — to push Djokovic to the limit in Sunday’s Australian Open final but while the feisty Russian threw some punches in the first set, he lost his cool and imploded spectacularly, showing he didn’t possess the game or the temperament to stop his Serbian rival claiming major title No. 18.

Medevdev, 25, has risen to No. 3 in the world rankings but is now 0-and-two from grand slam finals, after going down to Rafael Nadal at the 2019 US Open.

He’s part of the Next Gen brigade trying to topple Djokovic, Nadal and Federer but so far the veterans have proved impossible to dislodge from the top of the tennis tree.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Murray doesn’t see that changing for a while, saying the young talents on tour haven’t shown they have what it takes to match it with the very best on the biggest stage.

Sure, Thiem broke through for a maiden major in New York last year but he did so without Djokovic in the draw, after the 33-year-old was disqualified for hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.

“It’s different standing to return or to serve in a grand slam final, than a quarter-final or a semi-final, when you are coming up against someone who’s won 17 of them,” Murray said. “It’s pretty intimidating and the younger guys have not shown that they are particularly close.

“At the US Open, Thiem did what he had to do to win the event, but if Novak hadn’t put a ball through the line judge’s throat, it would have been the same outcome, I think.”

There’s always next time for Medvedev.Source:AFP

Murray’s comments echo Djokovic’s position, after the Serb played some mind games with Medvedev ahead of the final at Melbourne Park.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the new generation coming and taking over the three of us, but realistically that isn’t happening still,” Djokovic told Eurosport.

“We can talk about it all day, but with all my respect to the other guys, they still have a lot of work to do.”

Speaking after his latest triumph, Djokovic stood firm.

“It was a risky statement before the match,” he said. “Of course, I meant no disrespect.

“But I think I deserved, over the years in my position, to say something confident about myself and my game and my record in the finals.”

Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic backed up his pupil’s assertion the younger brigade still has a long way to co before catching up to the Big Three.

“They think they know too much, young guys,” he said, adding the top players are never afraid of trying new things to improve.

Meanwhile, the backlash to the Rod Laver Arena crowd booing during the post-match presentation continued.

Spectators booed Tennis Australia Chair Jayne Hrdlicka when she mentioned the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and thanked the Victorian government for helping the tournament go ahead.

Broadcaster Gerard Whateley said on SEN: “That’s not the sporting face we want to turn to the world.

“It should have been a night for pride but instead it was drowned out by the boorish booing and it is a great pity.”

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