It didn’t take the tennis world long to call out one of Novak Djokovic’s big backers for getting ahead of itself before tonight’s final.
Welcome to our live coverage of tonight’s Australian Open men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev.
Djokovic is chasing his ninth title at Melbourne Park while Medvedev is fighting for his first grand slam trophy after disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals.
The match is scheduled to start at 7.30pm AEDT.
‘OOPS’: DJOKOVIC SPONSOR GOES OFF EARLY
Novak Djokovic may be unbeaten in Australian Open finals, but a sponsor seemed to think he’s already won this year’s — before he’s even played it.
Ahead of the eight-time champion’s clash with Daniil Medvedev, his racquet sponsor HEAD offered its congratulations in a promotional email.
“Congratulations Novak,” said the email, posted on Twitter by tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg, which described Djokovic as a “record-breaking 9 time Australian Open champion”.
The gaffe was quickly rectified.
“Oops — we got ahead of ourselves!” a follow-up email said. “What we meant to say is … Good luck Novak in the 2021 Australian Open Final.”
The mistake is perhaps understandable, with top-ranked Djokovic’s eight titles already a record at the Australian Open.
However, Russia’s Medvedev takes a 20-match winning streak into the Melbourne final, where he is seeking his first major title.
NOVAK’S STRATEGY NEEDS TO BE ON POINT
Novak Djokovic heads into Sunday’s Australian Open final unbeaten on eight previous occasions in the title match, but knowing he will need to be at his mental and physical best to overcome red-hot Russian Daniil Medvedev.
The Serbian world No. 1 has had to battle injury and extract new levels of determination just to get to the final.
An abdominal injury in the third round put him on the brink of an early exit and left him unable to train between matches.
But after his semi-final win over another Russian, Aslan Karatsev, Djokovic reported he felt fitter than at any time during the Melbourne fortnight.
Tonight he will face an entirely different challenge against “chess player” Medvedev — the form man of tennis who is on a 20-match winning streak.
Medvedev, the world No. 4, is unbeaten since last November, including a straight-sets drubbing of the Serb at the ATP Finals in London.
“He’s just so solid. Also, I heard (commentator) Jim Courier calling him a master chess player because of the way he tactically positions himself on the court, and it’s true,” Djokovic said.
“You know, he’s definitely a very smart tennis player.”
Djokovic is into his ninth decider at Melbourne Park as he targets an 18th slam title to close the gap on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have 20 each.
But the 33-year-old said while experience was clearly an advantage, Medvedev would be a formidable adversary.
The Serb holds the phenomenal record of never losing a final on Melbourne’s famous blue courts in eight attempts spanning 13 years.
Djokovic will also be playing his 28th grand slam final. It will be the Russian’s second.
“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,” Djokovic 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.
“But it’s not a decisive factor in the way the match is going to go forward, because each year is different.”
Medvedev, who has dropped just two sets so far, said that despite having all the momentum he will go into the final as the underdog.
“He’s the favourite because he didn’t lose. On eight occasions that he was here in the semis he won the tournament,” said the 25-year-old.
“Me, 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.
“I know that to beat him you need to just show your best tennis, be at your best physically maybe four or five hours, and be at your best mentally maybe for five hours.”
Medvedev, who also reached the 2019 US Open final, losing to Nadal, has the weapons to trouble Djokovic, with a big serve, unrelenting returns and exceptional movement as he targets a maiden grand slam title.
Twelve of his 20 straight wins have been against top-10 players and he has won three of his last four against the 17-time grand slam-winning Serbian.
“Playing Novak seven times already is just a huge experience,” he said. “(But) I think when he’s in the zone he doesn’t miss. He goes down the line, cross, forehand, backhand, he doesn’t miss. That’s what is the toughest part of playing against him.”