Medvedev recalls long-ago practice session with Djokovic

The Russian lost his second Grand Slam final to Novak Djokovic but was all praise for his opponent and said he was inspired by him

Medvedev lost to Djokovic in straight sets in the final of Australian Open 2021.   -  Getty Images

Daniil Medvedev showered Novak Djokovic with praise after losing to him in the Australian Open final, even telling the story of a joint practice session a half-dozen years ago or so in Monte Carlo, where both have homes.

Back then Djokovic was No. 1 and was accumulating Grand Slam titles while Medvedev was yet to crack the Top 300.

“He was late," Medvedev joked on Sunday. “That’s the only bad thing I remember — that he was late.”

Otherwise, the point of Medvedev's story was how friendly and unassuming Djokovic was to someone who had not made a significant mark yet.

“He was super nice to me," Medvedev recalled.

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Medvedev said that and other positive interactions with Djokovic “helped me a lot, I would say, for my confidence in my career.”

The 25-year-old Russian, who is 8 years younger than Djokovic, is now a two-time major finalist and will be ranked No. 3 on Monday. But Medvedev is still chasing that elusive Grand Slam title — he also lost in a final at the 2019 U.S. Open to Rafael Nadal.

Medvedev is not used to being beaten on a tennis court lately. Nearly four months and 20 matches went by since he was on the wrong end of a scoreline. He had also compiled a dozen wins in a row against Top 10 opponents.

However, none of those contests came against Djokovic in the Australian Open final. That’s a whole different challenge: The 33-year-old from Serbia is 9-0 in title matches in Melbourne.

Medvedev shook off some early nerves to recover a break in the first set, but then Djokovic raised his level. After dropping the first set, Medvedev broke to open the second, signalling he was still in the contest.

Djokovic responded by winning 11 of the next 13 games to put the result beyond doubt.

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Afterwards, Djokovic said he figures it is only a matter of time until Medvedev wins a Grand Slam title, although he suggested he wouldn't mind if that took a few years.

That might give Djokovic time to catch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have 20 majors each.

It also might mean spending a little less time together outside of tournaments.

“We used to spend more time together. We used to practice more in Monaco. You’re not calling me anymore!" Djokovic joked during the trophy ceremony. “But it’s nice to hear you’re thinking good things about me."