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Pressure is all on Djokovic in the final, says Medvedev

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - After giving Stefanos Tsitsipas a semi-final bruising on Friday, Daniil Medvedev fired a mental barb at Novak Djokovic ahead of their Australian Open decider, declaring the pressure was all on the Serbian champion’s shoulders.

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 19, 2021 Russia's Daniil Medvedev during his semi final match against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

The relentless Russian will contest his first final at Melbourne Park on Sunday and look to claim his maiden Grand Slam title after beating Tsitsipas 6-4 6-2 7-5 at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic will bid for a record-extending ninth Australian Open title and 18th Grand Slam crown in total to draw closer to Roger Federer’s and Rafa Nadal’s all-time record of 20.

Yet Medvedev has now won 20 successive matches and 12 against top-10 opponents, including beating Djokovic on the way to winning the ATP Finals.

“First of all, I like that I don’t have a lot of pressure because he never lost in eight times he was here in the finals,” Medvedev said.

“It’s he who has all the pressure, you know, getting to Roger, Rafa and the Grand Slams (record).

“So I just hope that I’m going to get out there, show my best tennis.

“As we see, I can win (against) some big names if I play good. That’s the main part. (Djokovic) has, for sure, more experience but more things to lose as well.”

Before Medvedev’s semi-final, Djokovic told Eurosport “the new generation” of players had a lot of work to do and he would not “hand it over” to them.

Medvedev responded: “When Novak says he’s not going to hand anything to somebody, I believe him.

“So I know that to beat him you need to just show your best tennis.”

Djokovic also praised Medvedev as the “man to beat” in Melbourne and for two brilliant sets, the Russian lived up to the billing.

He was a break up in the third before a wobble on serve brought Tsitsipas and an army of Greek fans back into the game.

Yet he broke Tsitsipas again and served out the match with authority.

The 25-year-old Muscovite famously riled the crowd at the 2019 U.S. Open before winning them over in a brave five-set loss to Nadal in the final.

However, he admitted he was thrown by the baying crowd on Friday after playing in empty stadiums for matches during the five-day lockdown in Melbourne.

“I got a little bit tight, not because of the score at all but more because of the crowd... When you’re used to playing with a crowd, it’s one thing,” said Medvedev.

“Here it did get into my head. I’m happy that I managed to change my focus and change the momentum at the end of the third set.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Clare Fallon

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