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"It looks as difficult to beat Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open as it does to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros" - Mats Wilander

Novak Djokovic with his 9th Australian Open title
Novak Djokovic with his 9th Australian Open title
ANALYST
Modified 21 Feb 2021
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After Novak Djokovic won a record-extending 9th Australian Open title on Sunday, Mats Wilander likened the Serb's dominance in Melbourne to that of Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

Mats Wilander is a former Australian Open champion himself, having won the title three times (1983, 1984, and 1988). The Swede won the Australian Open and French Open on more than one occasion (thrice each) - a feat that none among Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer can boast of.

While analyzing Novak Djokovic’s spectacular triumph over Daniil Medvedev, Wilander revealed that he considers the Serb to be as difficult to beat at Melbourne Park as Rafael Nadal is on the claycourts of Paris.

"When you watch Novak play at the Australian Open, it looks as difficult to beat him here as it does to beat Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros," Wilander said.
Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2020 French Open
Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2020 French Open

Wilander also reckons that Djokovic played some of his best tennis during the business end of this year's Australian Open.

"The last two matches were faultless – he just didn’t make any mistakes in the semi-finals or the final," the Swede went on.

According to Mats Wilander, Novak Djokovic’s dominance at the Australian Open is particularly praiseworthy given how it isn't easy to assert yourself in faster conditions.

"It shouldn’t be because it’s a faster court, it should be much more difficult," Wilander said. "But he looks so solid, so confident, and once he gets into the lead I don’t know what you have to do."

With their continuous and seemingly endless success, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have each established a stranglehold at their favorite Majors - the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon respectively. Mats Wilander expressed awe at that, labeling these events as the ‘living rooms’ of the three greats.

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Roger Federer has eight Wimbledon titles to his name
Roger Federer has eight Wimbledon titles to his name
"It’s amazing how Djokovic has claimed the Australian Open as his home Slam," Wilander continued. "Rafa has Roland Garros as his home Slam, and Roger Federer has Wimbledon as his home. So it’s amazing how they all dominate in their own living rooms."

According to the Swede, Novak Djokovic is the favorite to take home the US Open as well as the Wimbledon title this year.

"Now we start thinking Novak is most probably the favourite to win the US Open because it’s a hard court," the Swede said. "Wimbledon? Maybe he's the favorite."

Novak Djokovic got the dream start: Mats Wilander

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Novak Djokovic in action against Daniil Medvedev
Novak Djokovic in action against Daniil Medvedev

Turning his attention to the first few minutes of the final, Mats Wilander opined that Novak Djokovic got off to a spectacular start.

The Serb broke Daniil Medvedev’s serve early to find himself 3-0 up in the first set. But the Russian did find his footing soon after, drawing level at 3-all, leading many - including Wilander - to believe that the two were going to turn this clash into a titanic affair.

"It was an unbelievable performance; Djokovic got the dream start, and then Medvedev came back somehow and you thought maybe this was going to turn into a tough match," Wilander said.

But after that Novak Djokovic did what he does best, and significantly upped his level at the crucial moments to take first set 7-5. Wilander pointed out that the Serb kept improving as the match progressed, while lauding the versatility with which Djokovic won points.

"But then Novak just played better and better and better," the Swede added. "A little bit of a hiccup early in the second set, but he is so solid, and he wins points in so many different ways."
Published 21 Feb 2021, 23:02 IST
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