What went wrong in 2021 Australian Open final?

What went wrong?


  • Total voters
    65

tennisjedi

Hall of Fame
Med was nervous. He got broken early in the 1st set and while he broke back to even it to 3-3, he had a mental lapse at 6-5 to lose the 1st set 7-5.
He broke Djokovic's serve for a 1-0 lead, but when he got broken back, Med just lost belief and it went downhill from there.
Perhaps Stefanos would have done better against Djokovic, but we'll never know.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
So Djokovic changed his game plan. He hit many balls centrally rather than trying to pull medvedev wide where he uses his long wingspan to generate power and angles. This cramped Medevedev and thus forced Medvedev to be the aggressor and not the counter puncher and his FH from the middle of the court got exposed. He then imploded as he was unsure what to do.
One wonders if Djokovic or his camp were perhaps lurking on here. It was tactically a great change up. Worthy of a chess master.
Actually that was a mid-match change in tactics by Novak - probably pre-planned. In the first set, he hit very aggressively from side to side and in particular hit very big to force errors from Medvedev’s FH. In the last game of the 1st set, he also hit very flat and lower over the net than usual to take Medvedev’s time away to get the decisive break.


Then, when Medvedev seemed to be adjusting and hitting better FHs himself early in the second set, Djokovic switched it up and started hitting more conservatively to the middle of the court slightly to the BH side, but still with enough depth where Med couldn’t hurt him. Med then got impatient during his service games and tried to finish points quicker and this led to a whole bunch of unforced errors which unhinged him mentally, broke his concentration and confidence - the match was essentially over at that point as he mentally gave up.

So, Djokovic gave a masterclass in how a champion can have different tactics to pace himself during a match and force his opponent to adjust - in most cases, the opponents don’t have the skill or mental calmness to adjust as they are constantly feeling pressured by the deep returns and shots hit by Novak from close to the baseline. One wonders what other tactics Novak had pre-planned if the match went to four or five sets.
 
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beard

Hall of Fame
Medvedev had no reason except mentzl weakness for that collapse.

Yes, Djonovic played very well. He already did so in the first set, which was close. He stayed about the same level for the rest of the match.

So Meddy at least could play him close. But he let the mini-choke at the end of set one get into his head and simply stopped playing.
It's not easy to keep step with zoning Novak for one set, can you imagine doing that whole match... Only peak Nadal or Federer maybe could stay in match in that circumstances... It wasn't possible for Med on that day...
So, it's Novak's fault Med failed, on the first place...
 

TheAssassin

Legend
While Djokovic had a decent "warm up" for the final by facing Zverev, he himself brought to the table what none of Medvedev's previous AO opponents were even close to bringing - stunning deep returns. Well controlled aggression, good net approaches and use of the whole court were all on point. He couldn't have wished for a better final performance right after all his mid-tournament struggles. On the other hand Medvedev for whatever reason was making too many errors for his standards which killed all hope of having a tighter contest.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
In terms of "what went wrong" then I choose nerves for sure. That's not to say he lost because of nerves, but that's why the match got so out of hand and was over in a blink.

Novak was extremely good, but that's not the reason Medvedev came out of the gate stumbling, sailing neutral forehands that he was hitting with easy all tournament long and getting caught flat footed on some of the most basic points where he was already a mile behind the baseline with extra time to set up.
You can't say he lost only because of nerves, but I think it's reasonable to say that without nerves he would have made a contest out of it.
 

uscwang

Hall of Fame
a mix of reasons I suppose

it’s become clearer and clearer that for Novak (and Nadal?) his level outside of a slam tells us little about how he’ll perform at a slam. So Med beating Novak in non slam events carried less information than many thought.

and, related to the first point, Medvedev had faced no one of Novak’s caliber on his way to the final. His results did not capture this.

finally you have the ”Novak at AO” factor. He was the 8 time winner for a reason
Beating Tsitsipas in a SF to play F against Novak in Australia? Not a very good idea.
 

MeatTornado

G.O.A.T.
You can't say he lost only because of nerves, but I think it's reasonable to say that without nerves he would have made a contest out of it.
Pretty much my point. I thought Novak would win a good match in 4. Medvedev has the tools to trouble Djokovic, but Novak is still a better player on that court at the end of the day and should win.

Daniil just left those tools at home for some reason.
 

uscwang

Hall of Fame
Well, Medvedev didn't serve so well, did he? Novak killed him on his 2nd serve.
Even if everything else were equal, that one difference would have decided the result.
Novak is the biggest and baddest percentage player out there. Big servers and big hitters could trouble him when they are super hot. And of course Nadal in RG. That's about it.
 

One

New User
Up intil 6-5 in the 1st set, i thought Med is gonna win. He was winning longer points and wearing Novak down. Yes Novak return was good, but return can't force a player to make that many UE during whole match. As soon as Med started making errors out of nowhere martch slipped out of his hands.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
I don’t blame Medvedev for giving in mentally halfway through the second set when it seemed like nothing he did was working to end points in his favor. Djokovic was pumped up playing his ninth AO final and showed vintage form like a 2015 version of himself - big serves, outhitting opponent from close to the baseline, very few errors in spite of being the bigger hitter, deep returns off 1st and 2nd serves.

Djokovic is too old to play at the BOAT level every week like he was able to do in 2015-1H2016, but I guess he can show flashes of that form occasionally when needed at the late stages of his favorite Slam. Wonder if he will do the same in the second week of Wimbledon. I’d like to see him do this metamorphosis to BOATovic in the 2nd week of the FO also.
 

Wurm

Semi-Pro
It was a bit like watching Thiem take on Rafa at the FO where Thiem has to redline his game to even stand a chance because otherwise Rafa does everything, except maybe serve, better than him. As long as Novak's fit*, confident and motivated then it's hard to see how Medvedev can beat him in the big matches unless he can serve his way to tie breaks and roll the dice (and Novak's too good at tiebreaks for the odds to be good).

What does Medvedev offer other than a good serve, as you'd expect from someone 6'6", against someone like Novak?
Return? It's solid but it's pretty much the "stand well back and try to at least get it in" approach so he almost never has Novak genuinely scrambling on his +1, even on second serves.
Backhand? Few players can go toe-to-toe with Novak in a backhand rally and come out on top regularly but for all Medvedev's solidity he's really just testing Novak's patience.
Forehand? Medvedev's is pretty good but it's not a special shot...
Great counter punching? High level passing shots? Variety? Great net game (hah)? Nothing of note, at their level.

I can't really even remember Medvedev dictating rallies for more than a few shots at a time, it just felt like the majority of points he won were either off big serves or by waiting for Novak to have a lapse of judgement, like the few "I'm bored now" looking drop shots he went for.

So, all it feels like Medvedev has is the grind. It shouldn't be underestimated how difficult it is to be as good at it as he is and to be making slam finals doing it, and if they keep facing up in best-of-3 matches where Novak's not that willing to dig deep Medvedev will get the better of him, but is it enough to get by Novak in the latter stages of a slam? Not this Novak; Not the Novak who's pushing hard for the slam record.

I hoped Medevdev would at least give Novak a bit of a scare like Thiem did last year. Ah well.

* yeah yeah, he had that tear... he didn't look like he was feeling a damned thing in the SF, let alone the final.
 

Beckerserve

Hall of Fame
Actually that was a mid-match change in tactics by Novak - probably pre-planned. In the first set, he hit very aggressively from side to side and in particular hit very big to force errors from Medvedev’s FH. In the last game of the 1st set, he also hit very flat and lower over the net than usual to take Medvedev’s time away to get the decisive break.


Then, when Medvedev seemed to be adjusting and hitting better FHs himself early in the second set, Djokovic switched it up and started hitting more conservatively to the middle of the court slightly to the BH side, but still with enough depth where Med couldn’t hurt him. Med then got impatient during his service games and tried to finish points quicker and this led to a whole bunch of unforced errors which unhinged him mentally, broke his concentration and confidence - the match was essentially over at that point as he mentally gave up.

So, Djokovic gave a masterclass in how a champion can have different tactics to pace himself during a match and force his opponent to adjust - in most cases, the opponents don’t have the skill or mental calmness to adjust as they are constantly feeling pressured by the deep returns and shots hit by Novak from close to the baseline. One wonders what other tactics Novak had pre-planned if the match went to four or five sets.
Similar to Nadal v Thiem 2019.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Pretty much my point. I thought Novak would win a good match in 4. Medvedev has the tools to trouble Djokovic, but Novak is still a better player on that court at the end of the day and should win.

Daniil just left those tools at home for some reason.
Statistically Novak is close to his peak in winning games, so any decline is happening very slowly, but there is a dropoff in his return numbers now have to be compensated for now with better serving, and that's exactly what he did. He was at exactly 60% of games for the whole slam, and if those numbers stay for the rest of the year, very few people will beat him.
 

Beckerserve

Hall of Fame
Statistically Novak is close to his peak in winning games, so any decline is happening very slowly, but there is a dropoff in his return numbers now have to be compensated for now with better serving, and that's exactly what he did. He was at exactly 60% of games for the whole slam, and if those numbers stay for the rest of the year, very few people will beat him.
Hard to judge anything. Australia is such an anomaly speed wise to rest of tour bar Dubai and Shanghai we still do not know where Djokovic really is for W and USO. He will never win FO as too many players can beat him on clay now.
On slower courts he has struggled with RBA, PCB, Tsitsipas, Khachanov and got destroyed by Nadal.
Far more likely we see a repeat of last year with Djokovic struggling at Majors than him winning anymore in my view. Wimbledon he is favourite but ive a sneaky feeling Nadal will do the Channel Slam this year.
 

Biotic

Semi-Pro
Statistically Novak is close to his peak in winning games, so any decline is happening very slowly, but there is a dropoff in his return numbers now have to be compensated for now with better serving, and that's exactly what he did. He was at exactly 60% of games for the whole slam, and if those numbers stay for the rest of the year, very few people will beat him.
Good info. I feel like his baseline game hasn't declined all that much, at least it is not very obvious on faster courts. However, he is pulling the trigger sooner, unlike back in the day, and that gives him more UEs.
 
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