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Australian Open: Novak Djokovic battles to defend his ‘Melbourne dynasty’ against Daniil Medvedev

Defending Champion Novak Djokovic is unbeaten and just another victory away from a ninth championship at Melbourne Park and his 18th major title overall while a young Daniil Medvedev is yet to win a Grand Slam title and will be eyeing to clinch his 1st major one on Sunday.

Djokovic will have to thwart the Russian challenge to defend his Melbourne Park dynasty. Another title for Djokovic would put him two behind rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most by a man in tennis history.

The tournament has charted a rocky path through the COVID-19 pandemic and a snap five-day lockdown due to a local outbreak robbed it of much of its vitality.

“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 said.

“I would say to win a Slam, especially against somebody (like) Novak, is already a big motivation, and I don’t think there is anything that can make it bigger.”

It’s the battle between two generations — Serbia’s Djokovic turns 34 in May; Russia’s Medvedev just turned 25 — hoping to add to the group that has dominated for more than 15 years.

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have combined to win 14 of the past 15 majors (Dominic Thiem at last year’s U.S. Open was the exception), and 57 of the last 69.

Medvedev has added mental strength to his arsenal, which proved invaluable in his semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas as he closed out a tense third set after briefly wobbling in the face of a hostile crowd.

He has also shown willingness to indulge in a bit of niggle, saying the pressure is all on Djokovic as he chases the 20-slam record.

Though Medvedev has won three of their last four matches, he has only met Djokovic once at a Grand Slam, losing in four sets in the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open.

He said he was happy to be the “challenger” against the “favourite”.

“And he’s one of the greatest players in the history of tennis,” he told reporters.

“So playing the final against him is superb.”

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