He won in four sets but it was anything but smooth for Daniil Medvedev. The Russian star wanted a time violation called on his American opponent’s serve and also wanted to change his clothes without sacrificing a toilet break – both were denied.
With Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation being successfully overturned in court just seven days before the Australian Open, the Serbian master is now free to challenge for official GOAT status.
Barring a subsequent visa cancellation, which remains an active possibility, the situation could not be any more perfectly set up for Djokovic.
He is famous for winning in hostile environments. He said after beating Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final for the third time in 2019 that when the crowd chanted his opponent’s name, he pretended they were saying ‘Novak’.
But he is no longer just taking on his opponent and the crowd, he is also up against public opinion.
The issue for the rest of the tennis world, is that Djokovic will thrive in this situation. Never being as well received as Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, Novak has instead had to graft his way into relevance with pure dominance.
All his 20 Grand Slam wins have been achieved while the other two were already dominant forces.
Unlike Federer, who benefited from a much weaker field early in his career, and Nadal who has run up his score primarily on one surface, Novak is the only player this century to win all the majors on at least two separate occasions.
He is also the only man of the big three to have held all four majors at the same time, while he can now boast most weeks at number one in the rankings, and a superior head-to-head record against both of his greatest rivals.
This is all to say that he only has to meet the final metric to be the official greatest: the stand-alone Grand Slam record.
With Federer’s retirement imminent and his chances of further titles looking increasingly unlikely, as well as Nadal’s struggles outside of France, Djokovic claiming his tenth Australian Open title in three weeks would seal the deal.
It would also be the most poetic way to do it. He has built a reputation on nerves of steel and being able to ignore those who wish he had never upset the party.
If indeed he holds the trophy aloft at Rod Laver Arena, and the frustrated moans of the crowd yell out ‘Novax’, all he will hear is ‘Novak’s’.
It will indeed be Novak’s. Novak’s tenth Australian Open title. Novak’s 21st Grand Slam overall. And Novak’s the greatest of all time. We’ll all just have to accept that.