‘I was hoping the other guy won’: Djoker’s 1am jokes
IT WAS up to world number one Novak Djokovic to stop the rot.
Had Daniil Medvedev managed to take out the Serb early Tuesday morning, then talk of a changing of the guard at the top of the men's tennis would have enveloped not just this month but 2019 in full.
But it was never a possibility, never, despite a spirited mid match fight from the Russian who showed plenty of skill to indicate his time will come.
On paper the 22-year-old Russian is the 15th best player out there, clean hitting, strong and in the vanguard of the generation desperate to push Roger, Rafa and Novak aside.
Yet they remain leagues apart. Both men live in Monte Carlo yet Djokovic has accrued $25 million winnings and Medvedev a mere $2.6 million. They will live vastly different lifestyles and the disparity in their status revealed itself in full on Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic has been here and done it all, six times a champ in Melbourne, while Medvedev had not reached the last 16 of any grand slam, irrespective of his high ranking.
Here, his mood was to get the job done, when the Russian threatened a comeback from 5-2 down in the first set, Djokovic merely cut out the errors, percentage play at its finest. They didn't tee off until 9.26pm and he wasn't in a mood to hang about let alone let the undeniably capable Medvedev in with a sniff.
Yet he did relax a little, Medvedev deservedly grabbing the second set on a close tie-break.
"It was a physical battle," said Djokovic. "Daniil has been playing some really good tennis, he has a big serve big backhand and defends well. It was difficult to go through him, I had to find a different way.
"In this kind of matches you just have to hang in there."
Djokovic is an impressive man this year, statesmanlike in his bearing on and off court. Only the foolhardy would bet against him making another final this Sunday.
Asked how he was feeling, the Serbian superstar said: "Since I guess my next opponent is watching, I'm feeling fantastic. I have never felt fresher in my life."
However, he was a little less pleased when he found out who he would be playing - Japan's Kei Nishikori.
"Thanks for the great news," he said. "I was hoping you were going to say the other guy won but… Well done Kei, amazing."