Another year, another opportunity for Novak Djokovic to continue his dominance at the Australian Open.
Yet again, Djokovic has reached the men's final of the tournament and will be looking to win a Grand Slam championship. The 33-year-old Serb has already claimed eight Australian Open titles (his first coming in 2008), including each of the past two and seven of the past 10.
In order to win the tournament for the third year in a row, the top-seeded Djokovic will have to defeat No. 4-seeded Daniil Medvedev in the final on Sunday. Medvedev has never won a major tournament, and this will only be his second appearance in a final (his first came at the 2019 U.S. Open).
Here's a look back at how Djokovic and Medvedev reached this point, followed by a preview and prediction for Sunday's match.
Updated Men's Bracket
No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
No. 4 Daniil Medvedev defeated No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2, 7-5
No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, Sunday at 3:30 a.m. ET, ESPN
Men's Final Preview, Prediction
Throughout his impressive career, Djokovic has fared well at Wimbledon (five championships), the U.S. Open (three) and the French Open (one), but he's had the most success at the Australian Open. Every time he's reached at least the semifinal at this tournament, he's gone on to win the title.
Djokovic will look to continue his success down under by winning his 18th career Grand Slam championship. But few matches have come easy for him this year, and it's possible that Medvedev will play a competitive match in Sunday's final.
In Djokovic's first six matches in this year's tournament, he's only won two in straight sets (including his semifinal victory over Karatsev). It took five sets for Djokovic to beat No. 27-seeded Taylor Fritz in the third round, and he played four-set matches against Frances Tiafoe (second round), No. 14-seeded Milos Raonic (fourth round) and No. 6-seeded Alexander Zverev (quarterfinals).
So even if Djokovic wins on Sunday, it may not be a dominant straight-set victory. But when he reaches this point at the Australian Open, Djokovic is difficult to beat, considering he's 17-0 between semifinal and final matches at the tournament.
"The more I win, the better I feel coming back each year," Djokovic said, per Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press. "I think it's kind of also logical to expect that. The love affair keeps going."
Medvedev has been on a roll, winning his last 20 matches dating back to last year. The 25-year-old Russian has won five of his first six matches in this year's Australian Open in straight sets, with the lone exception being a five-set victory over No. 28-seeded Filip Krajinovic in the third round.
But if Medvedev is going to capture his first Grand Slam title, he'll have to become the first player to defeat Djokovic in an Australian Open final. And he appears to know that it will be a challenging task.
"I know that to beat him, you need to just show your best tennis, be at your best physically, maybe four or five hours, and be at your best mentally, maybe for five hours," Medvedev said, per Fendrich. "I would say to win a Slam, especially against somebody [like] Novak, is already a big motivation, and I don't think there is anything that can make it bigger."
Djokovic owns a 4-3 career record against Medvedev, but only one of those seven meetings came at a major tournament. Djokovic defeated Medvedev 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open.
However, Medvedev won the last time the two faced off, notching a 6-3, 6-3 victory on a hard court at the Nitto ATP Finals in London this past November.
Don't expect a similar result this time, though, even if Medvedev wins an early set. Djokovic continually finds ways to emerge victorious at the Australian Open, and that's exactly what he'll do again this year. He's already faced adversity in this year's tournament, which will help him when he again faces some against Medvedev.
Djokovic and Medvedev will be tied after two sets, but Djokovic will rally for victories in the third and fourth sets to capture his 18th career Grand Slam title, moving closer to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (20 each) on the men's all-time list.
Prediction: Djokovic wins in four sets