swept Tsitsipas in Australia, caught up with Nadal and took 1 in the ranking

Redemption. Under the same firmament in which, a year ago, began the ordeal of Novak Djokovic With his deportation for his anti-vaccine stance, the Serb returned to the Olympus of tennis: he again matched Rafael Nadal as the most winners in Grand Slam history (22), by conquering their 10th Australian Open with a categorical victory over the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas which also catapulted him into number one in the ATP ranking.

At the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park, the Serbian came out more than determined, kept up a very consistent game and faced an environment ‘hostile by the large Greek community that lives in Australia and that accompanied Tsitsipas, who with the win could also be left at the top of the ladder.

But Djokovic did not miss his opportunity and prevailed with partials of 6-3, 7-6 (4) and 7-6 (4), in just over three hours of play, a score that shows a greater parity than that It was seen inside the court and that allowed the Serbian to snatch the number 1 ranking from the Spanish Carlos Alcarazwho was unable to participate due to injury.

At 35, the Serbian maintains his undefeated 2023 season, in which he had already won the ATP title in Adelaide. Maybe that’s why it collapsed when he went to hug his family and coaching staff, who in the box inside the stadium put on a shirt alluding to the ten titles won in the first Grand Slam of the season.

A while later, she got back up, it was difficult for her to reach her chair, she grabbed a towel and burst into tears again: her sobbing could even be heard through the ambient microphones.

It was the twenty-eighth consecutive victory in the oceanic ‘major’ for the Balkan, who thus distanced himself from the American Andre Agassiwho had a mark of 26 consecutive wins.

He also equaled Nadal and the German in third position Steffi Graf in the general classification of men and women with the most Grand Slam titles, a list led by the Australian Margaret Court with 24, and followed by the American Serena Williams con 23.

A hand-to-hand duel

Following his victory at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic equaled Rafael Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam titles. The retired Roger Federer won 20.

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“We know that on the court we are competitors, but we must appreciate the effort of each one. This is not going to be your last Grand Slam final, you are going to have many more than me”Djokovic told Tsitsipas, during the awards ceremony.

“Dream big, everything is possible. Don’t let anyone take away your dreams. It doesn’t matter where you come from. I think that the more disadvantaged you are and the more difficult it is, the more motivation you have to have. Water it like flowers, because you can do it”was the emotional message that the Serbian left before the public.

Djokovic defined this Australian Open as one of the tournaments “most challenging” of his career, after the cancellation of the visa in 2022, which did not allow him to play.

“Only my family and my team know what I have had to go through. It’s the biggest win of my career considering the circumstances. Last year I couldn’t play and I came back this year, thanks to all the people who make me feel comfortable in Melbourne.”, closed the Serbian, after remembering what he lived with his team and family in the last four or five weeks. At the start of the tournament, there had even been speculation about his loss due to the pain he was carrying.

“See you the next year”Djokovic announced later, that he will then go for his eleventh title at Melbourne Park.

Djokovic’s tenth

Djokovic's ten celebrations in Australia.  Photo: AFP

Djokovic’s ten celebrations in Australia. Photo: AFP

Novak Djokovic extended his own record at the Australian Open with a 10th title, to become the undisputed king of Melbourne Park.

At the age of 20, in 2008, he won his first Grand Slam and the first for Serbia after beating the then world number one, the Swiss, in three sets in the semifinals. Roger Federer, who had been undefeated for 16 games in this tournament. In the final he beat the French Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).

“Every player dreams of winning a Grand Slam. I still don’t fully realize what I’ve achieved these two weeks”he said at the time.

It took him three years to get his second Grand Slam, again in Australia, and attributed his success to a gluten-free diet. It marked the launch of a golden year in which he won three of four Grand Slam titles.

lost a single set in the tournament where he defeated defending champion Federer again in the semifinals and Scotsman Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in the final.

Djokovic explained that he had changed his team, his behavior and his diet after a disappointing 2010. “Things off the track weren’t working. I tried to find the best possible solution and get back on the right track.”counted.

In his first successful title defense, Djokovic needed five sets to beat Murray in the semifinal and then a nearly six hours against spanish Rafael Nadal in the decisive match. It was the longest final of the Open era and ended at 1:37 in the morning, when it had started at 19:30 on Sunday in Australia.

Djokovic tore off his shirt and roared in celebration of his 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 victory in 5 hours and 53 minutes.

“Physically it’s the toughest game I’ve ever played”said an exhausted Nadal, after greeting the public with a “good morning”.

Djokovic became the first man in the Open era to win three straight Australian titles by beating Murray 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-2, in 2013.

“It’s definitely my favorite Grand Slam, the most successful for me. I love this court.”acknowledged the Balkan.

Defeated in the previous quarterfinals by the Swiss Stan WawrinkaDjokovic took revenge in the 2015 semi-finals and beat Murray in the final again, 6-0 in the final set to equal Andre Agassi’s eight Grand Slam titles.

It was his first title after the birth of his son Stefan. “I think it has a deeper meaning, more intrinsic value in my life because I am a father and a husband”Djokovic maintained.

In 2016, again against Murray, Djokovic won his sixth title in Melbourne and his third straight Grand Slam after victories at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015.

Months later he would round off the statistics by achieving the feat by taking his first Roland Garros and being the current champion of the big four, although not in the same season. He also equaled Roy Emerson’s pre-Open era Australian Open record.

“It’s an incredible feeling, especially with the fact that I managed to make history tonight and equal Roy Emerson’s record of six Australian Opens.”said Djokovic, who also tied Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg with 11 majors.

After two years battling injury, which included elbow surgery, Djokovic soundly outclassed Nadal in the final 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to lift his seventh Australian Open of 2019 and his 15th Grand Slam. , surpassing his childhood idol Pete Sampras.

“It was definitely a sign of fate to start playing tennis, to aspire to be as good as Pete.”He maintained, adding: “Beating him in Grand Slam titles, I’m speechless”.

A year later, Djokovic claimed his eighth title in Melbourne and his 900th victory on the professional circuit. He defeated Federer in three sets in the semifinals but the Austrian Dominic Thiem gave him his most complicated final since the epic battle with Nadal in 2012. The Serbian lifted his 17th grand by 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“Obviously at this stage of my career, the Grand Slams are the ones I value the most. They are the ones I prioritize.”he claimed.

In 2021, Djokovic looked knocked out with an abdominal injury in the third round against Taylor Fritzbut ended up surviving in five sets. He couldn’t train between games, but his form improved with each round.

He won in four sets at Milos Raonic Already Alexander Zverev, and passed over the Russian Aslan Karatsev in the semifinals. In the final, another Russian was waiting, the number four in the world Daniil Medvedevwhich he lost in less than two hours by 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

Deported from Australia in 2022 for not being vaccinated against Covid, the Serb returned with the aura of a favorite, but an injury the week before the tournament made it difficult for him during the first rounds.

He emerged in the round of 16 and quarterfinals with beatings to Alex de Minaur y Andrey Rublev But, before the semifinals, he was embroiled in controversy again over images of his father posing with fans who displayed pro-Russian flags.

His father did not attend the semifinal, which he beat Tommy Paul, nor the final, in which Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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