© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Preview: Why Djokovic Must Adapt To Beat Medvedev In Paris Final

Russian hints he will reprise his winning game plan from Flushing Meadows

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are poised for a blockbuster meeting Sunday at the Rolex Paris Masters, where the World’s No. 1 and No. 2 players clash in the final for just the second time in tournament history.

“Let's hope for the sake of the fans and everyone involved we can have a thrilling match,” Djokovic said. “I look forward to that challenge.”

Having clinched the year-end No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking for a record seventh time on Saturday, Djokovic turns his attention to capturing a sixth title in Bercy and breaking his tie with Rafael Nadal for most Masters 1000 titles (36). Avenging this year’s US Open loss to the Russian would be icing on the cake.

Most ATP Masters 1000 Titles

 Player Titles
 Novak Djokovic 36
 Rafael Nadal 36
 Roger Federer 28
 Andre Agassi 17
 Andy Murray 14

Defending champion Medvedev has the chance to do what no other player has achieved against Djokovic. Should he win and level their ATP Head2Head series at 5-5, the 25-year-old would become the first of 30 players who have played 10 or more matches against Djokovic to achieve a 50 per cent winning record against the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

Medvedev indicated that he will look to rinse and repeat his winning backhand-to-backhand battle from the US Open. The big question is how Djokovic will counter.

“Of course winning the US Open would give me maybe some tactical things I want to try to repeat or use against Novak,” Medvedev said. “At the same time, we all know who Novak is. If he would not adapt to circumstances, he would not be where he is now. So he's definitely going to try to change something.”

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At Flushing Meadows, Medvedev was happy to settle into extended crosscourt backhand exchanges with the Serb. Djokovic found it difficult to attack the Russian’s flat, skidding backhand and even more difficult to run around the stroke. Djokovic took 57 percent of his groundstrokes on his backhand wing and hit just one forehand winner from the Ad court.

Djokovic tallied just three forehand winners for the match to Medvedev’s 11. How successfully he upgrades from a backhand to a forehand on Sunday could prove telling in the outcome.

“Last time we played, he overplayed me,” Djokovic said. “I overplayed him in the finals of the Australian Open. It was quite straightforward matches, both of them. Hopefully I'll be able to turn the tables around this time, learning from that experience in New York.

“I saw him play a little bit today against Zverev. He's been playing fantastic tennis… He's not missing much and serving big. It seems like he's finding the groove.”


Djokovic, who dropped a set in his opening match to Marton Fucsovics and needed a third-set tie-break to beat Hubert Hurkacz in the semi-finals, has failed in just one of the past 10 seasons (2017) to win at least one Masters 1000 title. But today is his last chance to net his first of 2021.

Medvedev, who rallied from a set down in the third round to beat Sebastian Korda, is looking to close out 2021 in style by successfully defending titles in Paris and at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

Since the start of the Rolex Paris Masters in 2020, Medvedev is 64-11 overall, 19-1 indoors and 14-3 against Top 10 competition. Of the 82 players to face Djokovic more than once as World No. 1, he is the only player with a winning record (4-2).

But the Russian is guarded when thinking that his US Open victory gives him an edge going into the final. “Against some players you feel like maybe you won a few months ago and you can gain confidence from this,” he said. “Against Novak you know that actually he is going to want to beat you even more when you beat him.”