Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev will meet for the second time this year in a Grand Slam final, now at the US Open, after Nole previously made light work of the Russian in Melbourne.
Djokovic didn’t really play his absolute best tennis throughout the tournament, losing no less than 6 sets en route to the final, but, as usual, he turned it up when it mattered most. The Djoker is coming after a 5 set win against a red hot Alex Zverev, snapping his 16 match winning streak (which included ruining Nole’s dream at an Olympic gold in Tokyo).
Medvedev has faced little to no adversity so far at the US Open. He lost just one set, to Van De Zandschulp in the quarters, and is coming after a comfortable three set win against Auger-Aliassime. Medvedev is playing fantastic, as he has been for more than a year now, but on the other hand you can find tougher roads to a final in ATP 250 tournaments than the one he had here, facing just two Top 50 players, the out of form Evans and Auger-Aliassime (who reached the semis thanks to an incredibly favorable draw himself).
Djokovic leads the H2H 5-3 (4-2 on hard courts). The most recent and relevant meeting was at this year’s Australian Open, when Djokovic dismantled Medvedev in the final, 7-5 6-2 6-2).
Djokovic is facing history. He can break the record for most Grand Slam wins, which he currently shares with Nadal and Federer, and he can become only the third player ever (and the first since 1969) to complete the yearly Grand Slam.
Looking at the way these two guys played at Flushing Meadows, there’s little doubt that Medvedev has played the better tennis. However, that was the case earlier in the year at the Australian Open too, and we saw how that went down. There’s also the fact that Daniil hasn’t been tested (he overcame a couple of difficult situations, but not against this level of opposition), and that’s not good news coming into such a meeting.
It will surely be Daniil’s biggest test ever: facing Djokovic in, arguably, the most important match of Djokovic’s life. As the Serbian put it, he will play like this is the last match of his career.
So, at a first glance, it kind of looks like we have seen this before: yet another GS final in which the challenger is playing lights out, but Novak / Rafa / Roger turn the tables with ease when it matters most. But despite all this, I think Medvedev is worth a shot here, especially considering he is priced over 3.00 (at the Australian Open, he was priced at 2.00!). We all know that Djokovic in a Grand Slam final is a different animal, but his shaky play so far must count for something.
There’s also the pressure. I mean, Nole might well be the best athlete in the history of sports under pressure, and I don’t necessarily EXPECT him to fold, but you never know for sure. He is human after all, and the achievement in front of him is colossal and, probably, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Remember, Nole was also chasing the truly unseen and unrepeatable feat of winning 4 Grand Slams and the Olympic Gold this year. He failed in the Olympics, and based on his reactions and behavior back then, it surely seems like pressure had a lot to do with it.
I see Medvedev as the kind of guy who has the mental toughness to deal with the greats in big matches. For me, he’s made from a different cloth compared to anybody else in the NextGen. Even if he was horrible in the AO final earlier this year (when I made the rookie mistake of trusting him with big stakes), we have to remember that in his first GS final he almost beat Nadal from 0-2 down, here at the US Open, and he won many big matches against the top guys. I think he won’t back down, especially having the extra experience of already meeting (and being humbled by) Djokovic in a Grand Slam final. I do not see him gifting Nole the win, like in Melbourne, and he also has the style to trouble the Serian Great.
I’m having a try on Danniil, but I learned my lesson not to invest more than small stakes against Novak Djokovic on such a stage, even at such generous odds. I would definitely feel like an idiot losing serious money going against Nole in a Grand Slam final, considering all my experience and how many times I saw him (and Rafa, and Roger) prevail in these circumstances. So, all that being said, 4/10 units is the most I can recommend on this bet. Considering the fact that Nole lost the first set in his last 4 matches, backing Medvedev pre-play might give us later in-play hedging opportunities too. Prediction: Daniil Medvedev – Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-6 4-6 6-3.