Novak Djokovic defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim 10th Australian Open title
The result was familiar, the ease with which it was achieved somewhat surprised. The historic implications of this match certainly did not hamper Novak Djokovic as the Serbian beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets to claim a 10th Australian Open title and a record tying 22nd Grand Slam.
After winning 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5), Djokovic went to the players’ box and sobbed uncontrollably, the importance and emotion of his feat overwhelming him. Even as he returned to his seat on the pitch, Djokovic hid his face in a towel, the television cameras picking up the sound of his continued crying.
Last year, Djokovic was unable to defend his title after being expelled from the country due to his Covid-19 vaccination status. This year at Melbourne Park, he suffered a hamstring injury and had to deal with the fallout of his father, Srdjan, being filmed with a group of Russian fans at the Australian Open.
During the presentation ceremony, Djokovic described the victory as “the biggest victory of my life”.
“It was one of the toughest tournaments I’ve played in my life, given the circumstances,” he said.
“I didn’t play last year, I’m coming back this year. I want to thank everyone who welcomed me, made me feel comfortable. Only the team and the family know what we’ve been through these last four to five weeks and this is the biggest win of my life considering these circumstances.
The statistics are amazing, the quality and consistency of his tennis even more so. Djokovic last lost at the Australian Open in 2018, a winning streak that spans 28 matches. During this tournament, he lost only one set.
Djokovic and Rafael Nadal now share the men’s record for major wins, while Djokovic becomes only the second man to win more than 10 titles in a single slam. The other being, yes, Nadal, who has won the French Open 14 times.
Without a doubt, both men are all-time greats, not just in their sport, but in any sport. Which is the biggest? This battle and debate is ongoing, and tennis is its benefactor.
The win over Tsitsipas in Melbourne, which took just under three hours, also lifted Djokovic to the top of the men’s world rankings, a spot he will hold for a record 374th week.
Tsitsipas, playing in his second Grand Slam final, the first of which, at Roland-Garros, also ended in defeat against Djokovic, can be happy not to be the first player to be overtaken by the 35-year-old Serb on the big occasion.
The Greek’s service was under pressure from the start. He fell 15-40 in the second game but managed to level the first set at 1-1, but once Djokovic broke in the fourth game, not only did it look like the set would reach an inevitable conclusion, but the game too. .
Third-seeded Tsitsipas put up tougher resistance in the second set, unforced errors were reduced, the serve became more powerful and he earned a set point but it was Djokovic who prevailed in the 15-hit rally that followed. And then the luck disappeared. Forehand errors would ruin Tsitsipas’ chances in the set-deciding tiebreaker.
An immediate break on Tsitsipas’ serve in the third set suggested the game was about to turn, but Djokovic immediately hit back. Again, a tieberak was needed to separate the pair, with Djokovic supreme this time – leading 5-0 before picking up three championship points.
When Tsitsipas made a long comeback, Djokovic’s title was assured. The Serb looked towards his team and family members – his father Srdjan didn’t seem to be present – and stuck his head and his heart out. And then came the tears.
In the end, Tsitsipas’ 42 unforced errors proved costly, as he was only able to get one of three break points, opportunities he had to take if he really wanted to test the Serb .
For the moment, the man tipped to be one of the players to succeed the two greats of men’s tennis remains in the shadows.