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Is there a legitimate rivalry between Djokovic and Medvedev? – Match Points #36

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev played three times in 2021, with one win apiece in their two Grand Slam finals. Our Match Points panel discuss whether this is the start of a genuine rivalry

December 20, 2021
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The figures

The 2021 singles season ended with Garbiñe Muguruza winning the WTA Finals and Alexander Zverev winning the ATP Finals in Turin. The German defeated world number one Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and number two Daniil Medvedev in the final.

The year was marked by a beginning of a rivalry between the Serb and the Russian, who met three times in 2021, each time in the final. While Novak Djokovic won in Melbourne and Paris, Daniil Medvedev was the first to beat the world number one in a Grand Slam in 2021 at the US Open, preventing the Serb from achieving the calendar Grand Slam.

The Russian is now close to Djokovic’s position as world number one. The Serbian even named the Moscow native as his main actual rival on the ATP circuit. In the latest episode of Match Points, Josh Cohen asked our guests Marion Bartoli, Carole Bouchard and Simon Cambers if a real rivalry between Medvedev and Djokovic is emerging, and if the Russian can play on the same level as Djokovic over an all season.

Novak Djokovic et Dannil Medvedev, lors du Paris Masters 2021.
Daniil MEDVEDEV (RUS) et Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB) – © Panoramic

Key moments

  • 1’16: Yes, the rivalry is growing little by little. But it won’t be like Borg-McEnroe or Federer-Nadal, because Djokovic and Medvedev are almost 10 years apart.
  • 2’30: Medvedev can compete with Djokovic over a whole season, but for the moment only on hard court. The Russian has to make progress on clay and grass.
  • 3’30: For Marion Bartoli, you can’t call it a rivalry because they are not from the same era. But Medvedev and Zverev will be the players who can prevent Djokovic from winning Grand Slams.
  • 5′: There’s not as much electricity in the air as there is for a Nadal – Djokovic or Nadal – Federer. Time passes, it’s logical that the youngsters come to disturb Djokovic but there is no rivalry.
  • 8’30: Djokovic’s obsession is to win a 21st Grand Slam title and overtake Nadal and Federer. Not to beat Medvedev or Zverev.
  • 10′: If the public has trouble getting excited about Next Gen, it’s not because of the game. The problem is the charisma and personality of these players.
  • 11’30: Marion doesn’t understand why the public wants the players to have a different personality. They are who they are, and that’s the beauty of tennis.
  • 18’50 : On the men’s side, what’s most likely ton happen in 2022? For Carole, it’s Medvedev who becomes world number one.
  • 19’13 : For Simon, Alcaraz will reach the final of a Grand Slam in 2022.
  • 19’57: On the women’s side, Simon sees Ashleigh Barty continuing to dominate the WTA Tour and winning several Grand Slam tournaments in 2022.
  • 20’37 : For Marion and Carole, the surprise could come from Coco Gauff in 2022. They are betting on a first Grand Slam success for the American.
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