Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic Don’t Have a Rivalry, Says Former Wimbledon Champion

Published 12/22/2021, 9:30 AM EST
Sep 12, 2021; Flushing, NY, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia (L) congratulates Daniil Medvedev of Russia (R) after their match in the men’s singles final on day fourteen of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Novak Djokovic has been one of the most dominant players on the circuit for several years now. In fact, the Serbian champion finished 2021 as the World No. 1 for the seventh time in 2021, surpassing rival Roger Federer.


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The 20-time Grand Slam champion was aiming to finish the year with another record- the Calendar Slam. However, Russian World No. 2, Daniil Medvedev, quashed those hopes. Medvedev defeated Djokovic in the US Open final in straight sets.

The two players have met thrice this year. Although two of those matches went Djokovic’s way, they were all closely fought. This definitely begs the question if there is a new rivalry brewing between the top 2 players.


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Novak Djokovic remains the superior player on clay and grass

In a panel discussion on Match Points, a talk show for Tennis Majors, the same question was asked. Show host Josh Cohen raised the question of whether the rivalry between Medvedev and Djokovic was legitimate.


Expert Simon Cambers opined that “Medvedev is still a work in progress when it comes to clay and grass. Whereas Djokovic is defending champion at Wimbledon and Rolland Garros.”

He voices how there isn’t much of a rivalry because Djokovic is quite superior on all surfaces, especially grass and clay.

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, too, agrees. “On clay and on grass, for Daniil, it’s still a long way to go. And especially even more on clay.” Additionally, she mentions Alexander Zverev, who could challenge Novak more on clay.


Medvedev and Djokovic have only met once each on either surface. Medvedev won the clay-court match in 2019. Conversely, Djokovic won on the grass court in 2017.


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Zverev and Medvedev are both players to watch out for next year, as per Bartoli. “Overall, I think those two players are going to be are going to be the ones who Novak might have some trouble against next year to win more Grand Slams,” she says.

Medvedev and Djokovic are a decade apart

Bartoli also shares why Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev do not have a ‘rivalry’. “I don’t think you can call it a rivalry just because the age gap is too huge. They are not playing in the same era. Novak has been playing a decade before,” she explains.

Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic shakes hands with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev after their final match REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Fellow expert Carole Bouchard, too, agrees with the age-gap argument. For her, it is significant of something else entirely. “For me, it’s not a rivalry. It’s just Novak trying to delay the change of the guard,” Bouchard says.


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Undoubtedly, the two are going to meet each other on either side of the net several times going forward. However, what will remain the same is the anticipation about who will prevail, which has always gone down to the very last game.

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Samarveer Singh

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Samarveer Singh is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. Holding a degree in English Literature and a diploma in Fitness Sciences and Training, Samarveer is obsessed with tennis and basketball. He is also an automotive writer at HotCars.