Daniil Medvedev was lost for words the first time he practised with Novak Djokovic.
And he appeared equally shell-shocked during Sunday night’s Australian Open final on Rod Laver Arena when his 20-match winning streak was cast aside in brutal fashion, with the Serb securing his ninth title 7-5 6-2 6-2.
Medvedev lauded Djokovic for his achievements on the court, the major lifting his career tally to 18 grand slam titles, and also offered a different snapshot of the world No.1 than most see.
“I first practice with Novak when I was like 500, 600 in the world in Monaco,” said 25-year-old Medvedev, who will rise to a career-high world No.3 after his finals appearance.
“He was already No.1 – just won Wimbledon – and I thought, ‘OK, he’s not going to speak to me’ or something, because the guy was a god for me.
“Because I was shy, I didn’t speak. He was asking the questions, talking to me like a friend. I was really surprised and it never changed since I was 600 in the world or four in the world – you’re a great sport, great person. So congratulations.”
Medvedev had no answer to Djokovic’s relentless pressure as he succumbed, just as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Andy Murray (four times), Rafael Nadal (two) and last year’s losing finalist Dominic Thiem did before him on Rod Laver Arena.
It was his second grand slam final loss after a five-set defeat by Nadal at the 2019 US Open.
But Djokovic felt a major title wasn’t far off for his young rival.
“He’s definitely one of the toughest players that I ever faced in my life,” Djokovic said. “It’s a matter of time when you are going to hold a grand slam, that’s for sure.
“If you don’t mind waiting a few more years …
“I would like everyone just to once more appreciate what he has done – 20-match winning streak in the last couple of months. Amazing.”