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If you had asked Novak Djokovic who he would have preferred to play in the final, he'd have said Tsitsipas: Boris Becker

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
ANALYST
Modified 20 Feb 2021
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Novak Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker believes Daniil Medvedev is the toughest opponent that the World No. 1 could have asked for in the final. Becker even claimed that given a choice, his former ward would have picked Stefanos Tsitsipas as his preferred opponent for Sunday’s title showdown.

Boris Becker served as Novak Djokovic’s coach from 2013 to 2016, guiding the Serb to some of his finest seasons on tour. Under the German’s tutelage, Djokovic won the non-Calendar Grand Slam (four Majors in a row, but not in the same year) while also winning an additional Australian Open and US Open title.

Speaking to Eurosport on Friday, Becker explained that Medvedev's unpredictability is what makes him a tougher opponent for Djokovic than Tsitsipas.

"If you had asked Novak Djokovic who he would have preferred to play in the final, Tsitsipas, he would have told you," Becker said. "Medvedev plays too unpredictable and has an incredible winning streak."

According to Boris Becker, Daniil Medvedev is currently the hottest player on tour and also the trickiest opponent that Novak Djokovic could have got.

"He is the most fashionable player right now but in front of him is the eight-time winner of the Australian tournament. Novak Djokovic is the top seed for the title, but Medvedev is the most difficult opponent that the Serb could have in the final," Becker said.

Why is Daniil Medvedev a tricky opponent for Novak Djokovic?

Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev arguably has the perfect combination of skills to trouble Novak Djokovic.

For one thing, the Russian has the easy power on his serve and groundstrokes that can take the racquet out of Djokovic’s hands. For another, Medvedev can chase the ball all day long, much like the Serb himself.

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That said, Daniil Medvedev is not a mindless counterpuncher who looks to get the ball back in play no matter what. The fourth seed also looks to close out points with his unpredictable patterns of play.

Whenever Medvedev finds himself under the gun, he thinks several shots in advance, trying to determine how to shift the momentum of the rally back in his favor. And faster courts like the ones in Melbourne greatly aid the Russian’s flat, pacy groundstrokes too.

With the ball bouncing less in the evening, attacking Medvedev’s low-bouncing returns may not be the easiest of tasks for Novak Djokovic.

Daniil Medvedev also has the ability to shift from defense to attack at the flick of a switch, putting the opponent under pressure from even well behind the baseline. That is something Djokovic will be wary of when he tries to find sharp angles with his cross-court returns.

Add to that Medvedev's gigantic serve, and you are suddenly faced with a player that's incredibly tricky to contend with, even in your return games. The Russian has used all these attributes to build a 3-4 head-to-head record against Djokovic, and there's a good chance he can make it 4-4 on Sunday.

Published 19 Feb 2021, 23:59 IST
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