He is number 1 and as such he gave a lesson. Patience, managing emotions, reading the game, temperance, and extraordinary service. Novak Djokovic finally despaired the desperate Daniil Medvedev in one hour and 53 minutes to add his ninth title in Australia, third in a row, and add his eighteenth Grand Slam.
The Serbian has never hidden. Yes he is concerned about numbers, he does play for history, he does want to beat, and the sooner the better, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with the number of Grand Slams. And it is in Australia where he recreates, while the Swiss, absent, reigns at Wimbledon, and Nadal, defeated in the quarterfinals, is impregnable at Roland Garros. Dispelled the doubts about his health, which seemed to condition his ability in Melbourne, everything vanished when he already smelled the rounds where he could be confirmed not only as number 1 but as the only one who can annul the records of his greatest rivals in history.
Because the young people are not there yet. Tsitsipas did the feat of lifting Nadal two sets and ended up exhausted at the hands of Medvedev. And the Russian, who arrived with numbers that scared: 20 consecutive victories, three of the last four crashes won against the Serbian, always so uncomfortable because his game ends up making the rival desperate, he found himself entangled in his own medicine melted, destroyed, so to the limit that he paid with the racket for the provocation with which the Balkan played.
Djokovic is No. 1 without discussion since February 2020, hitting the record 311 weeks in mid-March, because he reads the phases of the game with absolute clarity. He needed not be fooled by this illegible and rickety Russian tennis. And he put one more gear at the start, 3-0 in just eight minutes. It is true that Medvedev cleared his nerves, and took his impeccable backhand for a walk. He thwarted the early Djokovic cyclone and forced the Serbian to change strategy after drawing at 3 and putting himself in a position to take the first set to a tie break.
But there, the number 1, who is a matter of experience in great finals knows a while, (this was 28, like Nadal, and only three from Federer) observed that he was not able to overwhelm the Russian from the back of the track and He changed the plan: at times he let his rival take control of the point, the attack, the ideas. And he dedicated himself to always putting one more ball in play. There he found the formula for the desperate Russian player to end up desperate.
So inexperienced are the four in the world that his service, one of his most precious assets, betrayed him when he served for 6-6. And from there, the Russian entered a whirlwind of confusion and lack of control, unleashed his mistakes because Djokovic, very well planted and without leaving the game strategy was always there to return that extra ball. And if the Russian managed a crack through which to sneak the rest, the service of number 1 would get him out of trouble.
The more patient one, the faster the other, so to the limit that he preferred not even to think about services. If he had not lost more than once in the entire tournament, Medvedev accumulated 7 breaks in this final of fewer than two hours. If in the entire tournament he had hardly given any hint of his feelings, his face betrayed his discomfort at every point. Shredded racket included. Questions to the box. Unable to find your tempo again. Desperate. Without arguments before a Djokovic that was growing. 6-2 in the second and 4-1 in the third in the blink of an eye.
Only then did Medvedev find some peace, containment at last in his blows, spurring the stands, clearly leaning against him. It lasted a sigh, an infallible Djokovic right to the line, and another great long and patient point to make it 5-2. The last meters to glory and an impossible Everest for Medvedev.
Just before sitting on the bench to subtract to win, Djokovic answered why he is number 1, why he has nine titles in Australia, third in a row, and why there are already 18 Grand Slams with which to stalk Nadal and Federer index finger to temple. Head, head, and head. And although sometimes he also goes to the Serbian, he has been showing for years that he is capable of adapting to any rival to impose his game his quality, and his ambition. And all three are at a very high, superior level. Lesson number 1.