World No.1 has recovered from the US Open final title and title at the Paris Masters. But the problem from Medvedev, Zverev, Berrettini and Tsitsipas is real. How long can the Serbs fly the ‘Big Three’ flag?
Daniil Medvedev’s impressive victory over Novak Djokovic in the US Open final is a milestone in recent men’s tennis history. This was the first time a member of the ‘Next Gen’ tennis player had paid attention to the big game and to the legend of a violent game.
Dominic Thiem, having won the 2020 US Open, was probably the first to pass, and rightly so. But he didn’t have to hit anyone in the ‘Big Three’ – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic.
More than anything else, the apparent excitement of a young, well-executed youth competition has its appeal and that is why Juan Martin del Potro defeats Nadal and Federer at the 2009 US Open title is still a surprise.
When the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals, the annual finalists with eight of the best players in the world, take place starting Sunday at Pala Alpitour in Turin after more than a decade at the O2 Arena in London, Medvedev and Co. by developing their qualifications as the next generation of game developers.
It probably helps that Federer and Nadal are absent and the starters can only look at Djokovic. But it is also true that in the last two years, Djokovic, World No.1, has failed in almost every attempt made by the ‘Next Gen’ stars by breaking the door, the US Open final though.
Last week’s victory at the Paris Masters, where they defeated Medvedev, seems to have put Djokovic back on track after a powerful and devastating defeat in New York. You breathe well; Paris was his first team in two months and he is 34, almost nine years older than Medvedev and Matteo Berrettini, the oldest players in the running team – every advantage is needed.
In terms of technology, 2021 saw Djokovic change. The Serbian is still an excellent driver in strong courts, and the speed of his foot and his recovery seem to have not diminished. The fight against the ‘Big Game’ players – Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Berrettini – points to his ability to solve problems.
Tennis games today are more powerful than ever. Earlier this year, journalist Matthew Willis reported that the height of the ATP top-10 in 2021 was about 5cm higher than it was in 2011.
The Medvedev, Zverev and Berrettini races are built around this side, but Djokovic, who is a lesser builder, seems to have his own dimensions. Medvedev played the best game for the Flushing Meadows, when he killed his teammate. But in Paris on Sunday, Djokovic changed the system, serving and driving his way to the mark. He approached the net surprisingly 36 times and won 75% of the points. Twenty of these were server-by-volley, of which 19 won.
In a fight with Berrettini at the Wimbledon end, he deliberately rejected the Italian movement, forcing the latter to cancel his shot and commit a foul. In a fight against Zverev at the US Open, he hit, cut and threw a winning streak in five exciting games, although the Germans beat the winners with more aces than the Serbs.
In all of this, something that distinguishes Djokovic even Nadal and Federer is his midfield recovery after firing a shot from one corner. This demeanor helps him deal with players who give the impression that he is out of control at the hands of their opponents, in honor of their brutal powers, such as Berrettini and Zverev.
Tall and short
However, the best form of the three is still the best chance of ‘Next Gen’ players to disappoint. Djokovic is, without a doubt, the leader of the long-running war, whose combined record of 11-0 against Zverev, Medvedev, Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the top five games before the US Open confirms.
But of the three best ones are 12-8. The 20-year-old winner is dead with Medvedev at 3-3 and slightly ahead of Zverev, 4-3. Instead, the two experienced the same fate by beating him at the end of the year. Zverev beat Djokovic in the 2018 final with Medvedev in the 2020 round tournament, both directly.
The ATP Finals are also the title that Djokovic has not won since 2015, having won four straight titles since 2012. last year saw four different winners and none of them from the ‘Big Three’.
Stability of form – five matches in eight days, against the top 8 in the world – can also lose players. At the US Open, one reason Djokovic
he looked disappointed last time probably because of the nine games he played against Berrettini and Zverev in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
Shooting on history
However, if there is something that sustains Djokovic forever, it is an opportunity to make history. Medvedev did well after the final draw in Paris, where Djokovic’s 37th edition of the ATP Masters 1000 came when he took the only record from Nadal.
“He continues to hit the record,” Russian said. “There have been new people coming to tennis [in the future] just reading in Wikipedia, or whatever, what the consequences were, which was World No. 1 for many weeks, often at the end, and will see Novak everywhere. “
The sixth crown of the ATP Finals could bring Djokovic and Federer level and it would be a fitting end to the year that saw him win three Majors, Federer’s eclipse for several weeks at No.1, and finish seventh. End of Year 1 by Pete Sampras.
“I have always said that the history of our game is a great encouragement,” Djokovic said after the victory in Paris. “It is a goal, yes, to prove that I can break all history and the results that I can get on this journey professionally. As a result, I like to break records. I am determined to keep going.”