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Novak Djokovic wins ninth Australian Open crown

2021-02-21 14:35:45 GMT2021-02-21 22:35:45(Beijing Time) 
Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after the men's singles final between Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Russia's Daniil Medvedev at Australian Open in Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 21, 2021. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)

MELBOURNE, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Serbian tennis legend Novak Djokovic claimed a historic ninth Australian Open championship on Sunday night, beating Daniil Medvedev of Russia, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the final.

It was a surprisingly convincing win for Djokovic who remains unbeaten in all nine of the AO finals he has played at Rod Laver Arena.

Medvedev entered Sunday's contest on the back of a 20-match winning streak, however on the night was undone by a mixture of Djokovic's prowess and his own unforced errors which numbered nearly double that of his opponent.

Djokovic overcame an abdominal injury, sustained mid-tournament, to survive the remaining rounds, and eventually dominate the final battle.

"It has been definitely emotionally the most challenging Grand Slam that I ever had with everything that was happening, injury, off-the-court stuff, quarantines," Djokovic said.

"It has been, least to say, a roller-coaster ride in the last four weeks."

Djokovic confirmed the injury was a tear of the abdominal oblique muscle and credited his rapid recovery to the work of his medical team and sufficient rest between matches.

"I was quite worried. I did not look realistically that I could actually play," Djokovic said.

"Of course, I haven't done it myself. Medical team, my physio, has done tremendous work. With God's grace, I managed to achieve what I achieved and I'm very thankful," Djokovic said.

From the start of Sunday's match, Medvedev was on shaky ground; dropping his first service game and facing a 0-3 deficit within the first 10 minutes.

"He was aggressive. He was making winners when he had to. We're just coming again to the moment where he was a better tennis player today, without a doubt. Which is disappointing for me, but not much else to say," Medvedev said.

As the Russian shook off his nerves things improved, winning a break on the back of the first long rally of the match and going on to serve and level the score at 3-3.

However, with a tiebreak in sight, Djokovic struck, snatching a break in the 12th game to win the first set.

The second set began with a break by Medvedev and could have marked a turning point for the Russian. However, Djokovic broke back and went on to win the next four straight games.

Despite pushing Djokovic's next serve to deuce, Medvedev was broken again giving the Serbian a comfortable two-set lead. The Russian came within a point of claiming the first game in a crucial third set but was held off by Djokovic who came back from 15-40 to win.

Medvedev could only look to his wife and coach in his player's box and shrug as his errors piled up and the points slipped away.

"In the end, I lost in three sets where 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," Medvedev said.

Another lost serve found Medvedev again facing a 0-3 game deficit from which he could not recover, handing Djokovic his 18th Grand Slam.

"Nine years I managed to start with a win in Australia. That in a way sets the tone for the rest of the season for me," Djokovic said.

"It's why I love coming to Australia... because I know if I win here, then it just gives me huge wind in my sails for the rest of my year." 

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