Djokovic beats Tsitsipas for 10th Australian Open, 22nd Grand Slam

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA—Novak Djokovic has found his trip to Australia much easier and more successful than it was a year ago.

Djokovic missed the premier event of 2022 after being deported for not being vaccinated against COVID-19, but he has done everything he could have hoped for upon his return. of tennis.

Djokovic, who was only slightly challenged in Sunday night’s final, simply excelled in the most crucial moments, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5). , a record-breaking 10th Australian Open victory and a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam victory. As a bonus, Djokovic will jump from her No. 5 to her No. 1 in her ATP rankings.

“Given the circumstances, I would say it was one of the most challenging tournaments of my life so far. said wearing a white jacket. “And I want to thank all the people who have made me feel welcome and comfortable in Melbourne and in Australia.

And shortly after, the 35-year-old from Serbia made a really important statement given what he’s done on the tennis court. “This is probably the biggest win of my life.

Djokovic extended his unbeaten streak in Melbourne to 28 games. This is the longest record of his Open era, dating back to 1968. He added Trophy No. 10 to his seven matches at Wimbledon and his three at the US Open. That’s because he didn’t have a coronavirus injection and because he had more men to match his rival Rafael Nadal twice at the French Open.

Only two women are ahead of him: Margaret Court, 24, and Serena Williams, 23.

It is also Djokovic’s 93rd ATP Tour-level title, tying him with Nadal for fourth-most.

“Thank you for pushing our sport this far,” Tsitsipas told Djokovic.

Djokovic is in his 33rd Grand Slam final, Tsitsipas is in his second Grand Slam final, and the 24-year-old has also lost to Djokovic at the 2021 French Open in another tournament in Greece.

Djokovic, who had excelled throughout this cool night under cloudy skies, was particularly good in the two tiebreakers. He led 4–1 in the first and stole the final three points. He took his 5-0 lead in the final tiebreak and when it was over, he pointed to his temple before climbing into the stands. Crying.

When Djokovic returned to the field, he sat on a sideline bench, buried his face in a white towel and sobbed.

There is no doubt that this is no consolation for Tsitsipas, but there is no shame in failing to beat Djokovic in Melbourne. Challenging his dominance on blue hardcourts is a monumental task in every way, to face Nadal on the red clay courts of the French Open.

Perhaps surprisingly, Tsitsipas was willing to engage in the leg-wearing, lung-burning back and forth that Djokovic has built his best career on. ? Djokovic won 43 and Tsitsipas won 30 of the five or more RBI points.

Also, on the rare occasions Tsitsipas scored, Djokovic often induced awkward passing shots, so he may have regretted the decision.

The trophy they were playing was displayed on a pedestal near the corner of the court, and the two men reached for it whenever they wandered off to towel off between points at its edge. Very close, but never really close enough for Tsitsipas.

Aside from an early miscue rash that seems to be the product of tension more than anything else, it’s not that he played too poorly.

Simply put, Djokovic was too tough. His strokes are so accurate that he has only 22 unforced errors, 20 less than his opponent. A chase shot that was too fast and flexible (except for Djokovic, who ran left and fell his 1 second set his point).

Djokovic pushes, pushes, pushes until he’s a less-than-perfect opponent in one swing.

That’s what happened when Tsitsipas held the first break point (which was also a set point), led 5-4 in the second, and Djokovic served 30-40. Could this be the fulcrum? Will the slope of the result change? Djokovic might give in? Is it possible for tsitsipas to explode?


Australian Open Tennis
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (left) shakes hands with Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas after winning the men’s singles final at the Australian Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne, Australia, 29 January 2023. (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP Photo)

The 15-stroke point was capped off by Djokovic slapping the winner on a crosscourt forehand. Tsitsipas’ two mistakes followed: a backhand long and a forehand wide. They felt like surrender. Even when Tsitsipas actually broke in the third, Djokovic quickly broke back.

Over the past two weeks, Djokovic had more than forehands and backhands on his mind.

There was the not-so-small issue of last year’s legal battle. He alternately admitted that everything served as a form of motivation, but said the other day, “I’m done with it.” Pandemic restrictions has been eased, so you can get it when you are allowed to travel to Australia this time.

He heard plenty of loud cheering, but also dealt with persistent jeering during the competition, such as the applause after Sunday’s failure.

I had pain in my left hamstring after every match, and I could only see one piece of beige athletic tape until the final.

And then there was the more complicated issue after Djokovic’s quarterfinals, when his father, Srujan, was photographed with a group of people holding Russian flags in the image of Vladimir Putin. Prohibited spectators from bringing Russian or Belarusian flags as it would cause confusion due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Djokovic and his father said it was a misunderstanding. Srjan thought he was with the Serbian fans.

Still, Srjan Djokovic did not appear in his son’s semi-finals or finals.

Either way, Djokovic excelled as usual, winning 17 straight sets after losing a set in the second round last week.

“He’s the greatest tennis racket ever,” Tsitsipas said.

Howard Fendrich