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Djokovic, Medvedev expecting toughest battle as they meet in Adelaide semis

The two men meet for the 13th time and know that each represents a huge threat to their chances of winning the title

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev Daniil MEDVEDEV (RUS) et Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB) || 212058_0070 2021 2022 ATP atp1000 fft FINAL FINALE MASTERS masters 1000 rolex spo sport tennis trophee trophy

It is six years since Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev played for the first time, a Davis Cup match which the Serb won when Medvedev retired in the fourth set.

A lot has changed since then, with Medvedev emerging from the pack to threaten, and then beat, the world’s best players, claiming his first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2021, when he beat Djokovic in the final to deny him the calendar-year Grand Slam.

The pair will meet for the 13th time on Saturday when they play in the semi-finals of the Adelaide International 1, a much-anticipated battle between two of the most resilient players around.

Djokovic leads 8-4 and has won their past three matches. Medvedev has looked sharp this week and about the only thing guaranteed is that the match is likely to be tight, full of long rallies.

Medvedev on Djokovic: “Mentally he’s a machine”

After his quarter-final win over Karen Khachanov on Friday, Medvedev was effusive in his praise for Djokovic.

“It’s a challenge and it’s a great test before Australian Open to play one of the best ones and probably the best player ever in terms of Australian tennis,” the Russian said.

“You know that you have to put the ball four times on the line, maybe full power to win the point. He serves pretty big, even if it may not seem like this; he’s one of the best returners of all time. All this makes it tough, and on top of this mentally he’s a machine.

“He’s capable of saving match points in the Grand Slam finals. He’s capable of beating you when you serve for the match. Yeah, it’s just very tough, but this is what makes it sweet when you manage to overcome this challenge.”

Djokovic saw off Denis Shapovalov in his quarter-final and is through to the last four without dropping a set. Having also beaten Medvedev in the ATP Finals in November, where he won a record-equalling sixth title, he is full of confidence. But he knows what a challenge Medvedev can pose.

“The respect is mutual, of course. Also understanding of how good of a tennis player he is on the court. He’s established top player for last four, five years he’s been one of the best players in the world, former No. 1, Grand Slam champion. He’s just mentally so tough in the big moments, big serve, very complete game. Of course he keeps on improving.

“I know what it takes to play against him and win. Of course it can be anybody’s game. I think we are both playing well. I saw him playing few matches this week. He’s striking the ball very, very well. He’s as consistent as he always is.

“He doesn’t give you too many free points, so to say. He’s got a big serve, so he can cruise through his service games but then he makes you work on your service games. He’s definitely one of the toughest players to play against.

Djokovic said the history of their previous matches suggests it will be another close one, though he said the slower conditions of the night session could change things a little.

Medvedev said he expects the standard to be sky-high.

“Even last year, the two matches we played were crazy…I managed to raise my level to one of the best levels I played in 2022,” he said.

“Even the last one in Turin where I was not motivated in a way (during the round-robin phase), but during the match I found the motivation. It was great matches. I’m really disappointed that I didn’t manage to win them.

“In Australia we played already three times, I think, and both of them different matches. Not going to touch too much on this, but I lost all of them.”

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