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"Novak Djokovic was a god for me" - After Australian Open loss, Daniil Medvedev recalls his first ever meeting with the Serb

Novak Djokovic (L) and Daniil Medvedev
Novak Djokovic (L) and Daniil Medvedev
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 21 Feb 2021
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Novak Djokovic lifted a record-extending ninth Australian Open trophy on Sunday after he defeated World No. 4 Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the final.

Although it was a heavy defeat for Medvedev, and also ended his remarkable 20-match winning streak, the Russian appeared very calm during his post-match interview. Medvedev showered rich compliments on his opponent, and even recalled the story of his first meeting with Novak Djokovic.

"Just to tell you a small story," Daniil Medvedev said. "I first practiced with Novak in Monaco when I think I was (ranked) 500 or 600 in the world and he was already World No. 1. He had just won Wimbledon."

Medvedev went on to reveal that he expected Djokovic to ignore him, given the difference in their statures at the time. But Djokovic was extremely gracious and friendly in his demeanor, which really impressed the Russian.

"I thought he was not going to speak to me or anything because the guy (Novak Djokvovic) was a god for me," Daniil Medvedev added. "Because I was shy I didn't really speak, but he came there - asking me questions and speaking to me like a friend. I was really surprised. It never changed if I am 600 in the world of 4th in the world."

I didn't play bad but I didn't play my best tennis: Daniil Medvedev on his defeat against Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic (L) and Daniil Medvedev
Novak Djokovic (L) and Daniil Medvedev

Speaking about his 5-7 2-6 2-6 defeat to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final, Daniil Medvedev claimed that the defeat hurt him because he was not able to bring his best level to the court.

"It's definitely tough. I don't like to lose matches whether it's a first round or a final of a Grand Slam," the Russian said. "I didn't play bad but I didn't play my best level. Probably he made his game that good today that I couldn't stay at my best level."
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Medvedev also asserted that the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are all 'better tennis players' than him, and that the experience of the final was very good for his future.

"If I play finals against Novak here again, I will try to do something different on and off the court. The Big 3, they’re just better tennis players, I am not shy to say this," Medvedev said.

Daniil Medvedev's straight-sets defeat at the hands of the World No. 1 played out very differently from his maiden Grand Slam final. In the 2019 US Open final, Medvedev's first at a Major, the Russian scripted a spirited comeback against Rafael Nadal before losing in the fifth set.

As for Novak Djokovic, his 18th Major title and ninth Australian crown further establishes his status as one of the game's greatest-ever players. It also puts him in pole position to end up with the most Slams in men's tennis history, ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Published 21 Feb 2021, 18:50 IST
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