In the last game of the Australian Open 2021, 25-year-old Daniil Medvedev - already a finalist at the US Open two years ago - faced world number one and eight-time Melbourne champion Novak Djokovic. After a first set fought and played almost evenly, the most experienced player from Belgrade left the crumbs to the Russian, defeating him with a score of 7-5 6-2 6-2.
It was the 18th Grand Slam trophy for Djokovic, who now chases Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal just two distances from their record of 20 wins. The last time a player other than the Big 3 beat one of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal in a Major final was the Swiss Stan Wawrinka, at the US Open 2016.
In a recent interview, Pepe Imaz claimed that Novak Djokovic has realized the importance of valuing himself as a human being first. Imaz's comments came after Djokovic's latest Australian Open title, which he won amid some very challenging circumstances.
Imaz on Novak Djokovic's quest for the all-time Grand Slam record
"Novak Djokovic has spent years working on himself, his interior, understanding that when one is better inside, everything he does, he does it with more harmony, and (does it) better at the end of the day," Pepe Imaz stated.
"We have not worked on anything in particular and, in general, on everything that was being done," Imaz said. "It is not something that is done in a month or two months or to focus on something specific. It is more a base of work that in the end is to become aware and prioritize that before being a tennis player you are a person and a human being," he added.
"When you enter that part, the other is still important but does not have the same relevance." During the interview, Pepe Imaz also touched upon Novak Djokovic's quest to break the record for most Grand Slams in men's tennis.
The Serb's Australian Open title marked his 18th Major, taking him to within two of the all-time record which is jointly held by rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. "Novak Djokovic's desire and goal at a professional and tennis level is to achieve the maximum possible Grand Slams," Imaz said.
"He has it in his sights, and he has a lot of determination. But when there are 3 people with that determination, it is not easy," he added. "Rafa and Novak are people with impressive mental strength. It will be nice to see what happens year after year."
Roger Federer will return to the court after almost a year. In a situation like this, it’ll definitely be difficult for him to compete with players who are almost half of his age and win Grand Slam titles. On the other hand, Rafa and Djoker still have a better physique and have few more years to play. Will Djokovic be able to surpass Nadal in the Grand Slam tally at the end of his career?