So the Australian Open final line-ups have been decided. Daniil Medvedev’s outstanding straight-sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday sent him into his second major final, where he will face defending champion Novak Djokovic. Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka will take on Jennifer Brady, with the American playing in her first Grand Slam final.
Who is going to come out on top? Here, we take a look at this weekend’s showpiece match-ups.
Naomi Osaka v Jennifer Brady
When: 08:30 GMT - Saturday 20 February
Naomi Osaka is simply imperious at the moment. Her emotional semi-final win over the great Serena Williams was a clinical blend of power and skill, and she will be confident of producing a similar display to regain the Australian Open crown she won in 2019.
The 23-year-old has made things look easy this year, dropping just one set to last year’s beaten finalist Garbine Muguruza, coming from behind to win 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. In truth, in the form she is in at the moment it looks like she could secure a stranglehold on women’s tennis for several years to come, especially on the hard courts. Her two US Open wins in 2018 and 2020 and her Australian Open win in 2019 prove her credentials on this surface.
Of course, this match-up with Jennifer Brady is a re-run of the thrilling US Open semi-final from last year, when Osaka came through 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 in one of the finest matches of the year. If that one is anything to go by, we are in for a real treat on Saturday. Despite Osaka’s brilliance, the world number 24 is one of the few players in the world who can push her all the way on the hard court.
Boasting a strong serve and a big forehand with a lot of topspin, Brady could force Osaka to move into uncomfortable positions around the court, which she will need to do if she is to have any success. If Osaka gets into her stride, she will be tough to stop.
The pair have only met three times across their careers to date, with Osaka leading 2-1, including that US Open win. They first met in 2014, when a 19-year-old Brady beat the 17-year-old Osaka, but this is their most high-profile meeting to date.
Sportsman Stat: Naomi Osaka is on a 20-match winning streak and has never lost a Slam final.
Sportsman Prediction: Naomi Osaka to win.
Betfred Odds: Osaka 2/11 favourite, Brady 7/2
Novak Djokovic v Daniil Medvedev
When: 08:30 GMT - Sunday 21 February
Death, taxes, Novak Djokovic making the Australian Open final. As he targets his ninth title in Melbourne and his third in a row, the world number one has shown incredible determination, battling through an unsettled build-up to make it this far. He made his semi-final win over qualifier Aslan Karatsev look simple but he has also impressively beaten Alexander Zverev, Milos Raonic and Taylor Fritz this year despite dropping sets to all three.
It hasn’t been an easy journey in 2021 for the Serb, but he has proved once again he is the best in the world. Worryingly for his opponent, every time Nole has reached the final he has won, and only Rafa Nadal’s ridiculous French Open record (100-2), is better than Djokovic’s Australian Open record (81-8), even accounting for both Pete Sampras’ and Roger Federer’s dominance at Wimbledon.
The scary thing is that it looks like he is still improving, but Daniil Medvedev is in the form of his life. The 25-year-old has now recorded 20 wins in a row, with 11 of those coming against top 10 players. His semi-final win over sixth seed Tsitsipas was hugely impressive, dominating the first two sets before winning the third after some incredible shots with the scores level at 5-5.
All the pressure will be on Djokovic on Sunday, and Medvedev is well aware of that fact. "On Sunday I am going to come up against one of the greatest,” he said on Friday. “The experience of playing against Rafa [in the 2019 US Open final] will maybe turn some things for me if we have a crazy match.
“I don’t have a lot of pressure because he never lost in eight finals here. I just hope I can show my best tennis, I can beat some big names if I play well. He is for sure more experienced but has more things to lose than me.”
Their head-to-head record is also sure to give Medvedev hope. Djokovic leads 4-3 overall but the Russian won their last meeting 6-3, 6-3 at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in November 2020.
Sportsman Stat: Djokovic has lost the first set in three of his eight Australian Open final wins.
Sportsman Prediction: Djokovic to win in four sets.
Betfred Odds: Djokovic 10/11, Medvedev 10/11