A Djokovic-Medvedev final in the upcoming ATP finals would be a fitting end to the year, and the rivalry will also rule 2022
It will the Rivalry in men’s tennis and perhaps the one that Novak Djokovic enjoys the most.
The Serb may have had a positive head-to-head race against Rafael Nadal (30-28), Roger Federer (27-23) and Andy Murray (25-11), but against this trio, Djokovic has often had the villain as her idol When played it’s about crowd support.
Federer has long been the darling of men’s tennis, the most revered player of this century, if not at all. A consecutive 18-time winner of the ATPTour.com Fans’ Favorite Award, he wins even in injury-ridden years, and in terms of popularity, Nadal is not far behind. Murray, on the other hand, of course had his backing when he played at Wimbledon or the ATP finals were held in London.
In his role as the antagonist, Djokovic thrived – even if the lack of support annoyed him a little – and while the power of his three biggest rivals has slowly faded, he remains number 1 in the world and the next generation player is still struggling to plunge .
However, he probably fulfilled his match in Daniil Medvedev, the Russian number 2 in the world, who Djokovic defeated in straight sets in the US Open final in September.
That rivalry is now 10 games deep, with Djokovic leading 6-4 while the winner has been alternated in each of his last six games, which date back to Cincinnati in 2019.
The unpredictable result, coupled with the quality shown, made for a gripping match-up, and they could fight again at the upcoming ATP finals at the end of the year, with the pair separated in the round robin phase and therefore likely in the final when they come through the tournament with a flawless record.
That may not come to fruition – with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev among those hoping to have their say – but even so, Medvedev looks like he will be Djokovic’s biggest barrier in the years to come.
Medvedev could also be why the 34-year-old is sticking to his quest for more cutlery – a “big” rival who keeps him busy and suspicious of what it takes to stay at the top.
“When I see people who take on their nature and identity and work hard every day to get better – I know that great things are in store for them,” said Djokovic after defeating Medvedev in the final of the Paris Masters on Sunday.
“I look forward to seeing more of you. I know that you will not be easy for me and you are a great rival. “
It seems like a weight lift when Djokovic plays Medvedev as he doesn’t fight the crowd as well as his opponent. When Federer and Nadal appear in tournaments, their army of supporters follows them, but in their current injury break there are places for neutrals – or for Djokovic’s own incredibly passionate “Nole Fam” fan base.
This was particularly evident towards the end of the US Open final when Djokovic hit his chest and then burst into tears as the crowd forced him to keep the match against Medvedev, who himself faced a barrage of whistles when he tried the game.
“I felt something here in New York that I have never felt in my life,” said Djokovic after losing 6: 4, 6: 4 and 6: 4 to his hopes for a calendar grand -Slam to quit.
“The audience made me very special. You have pleasantly surprised me. I wasn’t expecting anything, but the amount of support, energy, and love I got from the crowd was something I will remember forever.
“That is the reason for the switch that I just tore up. The emotion, the energy was so strong. It’s as strong as winning 21 grand slams. To be honest, that’s what happened to me. I felt very, very special. You touched my heart, honestly. “
It’s been a stressful endeavor for Djokovic, but proof that he doesn’t need to be cast as a villain forever and this could prove to be the new life he needs as he chases the men’s Grand Slam record.
There is no doubt that he will stand alone in this category at some point, perhaps as early as the Australian Open when he competes in the first major of 2022, and while Medvedev could narrow his final prey, that rivalry could be the only motivation that Djokovic needs to extend the final chapter of his storied career.