Even the 'real haters' will come to admire Djokovic

PARIS • Novak Djokovic may not enjoy the same kind of adulation from tennis fans as Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal but even his "real haters" will come to appreciate his records and achievements after he retires, Daniil Medvedev has said.

The Serb avenged his US Open final loss to the Russian by winning a record-extending sixth title in Paris and a record 37th Masters title on Sunday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion fought back from a set down to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to not only pass the mark he shared with Nadal, but also seal the year-end world No. 1 spot for a record seventh time to move ahead of American great Pete Sampras.

Medevedev, who is ranked one place lower, gave Djokovic, 34, his dues.

"Ten years after he retires, there are going to be people who will start watching tennis just like me. I didn't see Sampras play, I was too young but I heard he was amazing - it's going to be the same," the 25-year-old said.

"There are going to be new people coming to tennis who are just going to read in Wikipedia or whatever, what were the results, who was the world No. 1 for most weeks, for most times.

"In the end, they are going to see Novak everywhere. That's when people are going to start to understand (and say) 'Okay, that's amazing what he has done'.

"I have the feeling people start more and more to respect what he has done in tennis. Because, well, he continues to beat the records. I feel like, unless they are real haters, which are not real fans, people start to see what he's done and to see that he's able to do more."

Medvedev denied Djokovic a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam men's singles title at Flushing Meadows, as well as a calendar Slam, but never once felt he now had his number, with their career head-to-head record at 6-4 in favour of the reigning Australian, Wimbledon and French Open champion.

"It's impossible to have any upper hand, psychologically speaking, on him," Medvedev added. "When I play Novak, I knew that he would try to take his revenge even if the match is not the same. What was at stake was not the same. I could feel he really wanted to win no matter what, and this is what competition is all about."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2021, with the headline Even the 'real haters' will come to admire Djokovic. Subscribe