Daily Mail


- By MIKE DICKSON Tennis Correspond­ent

THE way Daniil Medvedev

played in the US open final, you wonder if he might emerge as kingmaker in the battle between the ‘Big Three’ to win most Grand Slam titles. The russian has a zany side — witness his hilarious FIFA computer game ‘dead fish’ celebratio­n after beating Novak Djokovic — but is a massively formidable player who looks like the next world No 1. His 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory was so dominant that inevitably the question will arise whether he could stop the Serb in his tracks. Djokovic needs one more major title to pass the currently incapacita­ted rafael Nadal and roger Federer. Strangely, it appeared that Djokovic walked on court almost accepting his fate in what he had billed as the biggest match of his life. His reaction was one of resignatio­n later, when asked how he felt about just missing out on all four Slams of 2021. ‘relief,’ replied Djokovic. ‘I was glad it was over because the build-up for this tournament and everything that mentally, emotionall­y I had to deal with was a lot to handle.’ Medvedev seemed to have relished his role as the spoiler,

and he will be a serious threat to Djokovic’s usual dominance of the Australian Open. ‘Knowing that I beat somebody who was 27-0 in a year in Grand Slams, going for huge history, knowing that I managed to stop him definitely makes it sweeter,’ he said. The race between Djokovic and Nadal is a fascinatin­g prospect for next year as they stand at 20-all with Federer. The Spaniard could still have at least one more French Open in him, while Djokovic is so good in Australia that in January he will seek his 10th title there. Yet with Medvedev now having won that difficult first title, he is going to be a more potent threat in Melbourne, on the hard courts which suit him better than clay or grass. Djokovic was left conceding that the ‘changing of the guard’ is already taking place. ‘The transition was inevitable,’ he said. ‘The older guys are still hanging on. We’re still trying to shine the light on the tennis world as much as we can. ‘I still want to keep going, try to win more Slams, play for my country. Those are the things that motivate me the most. ‘But the new generation is establishe­d. Of course they are going to take over. Tennis is in good hands because they’re all nice guys and very, very high-quality players.’

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