Monday March 27, 2023

Djokovic wins record 10th Australian Open title

Published : 29 Jan 2023, 20:07

  DF Nrews Desk
Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning the Australian Open men's singles final against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 29, 2023. Photo: Xinhua by Bai Xuefei.

Novak Djokovic won his 10th Australian Open title on Sunday to equal Rafael Nadal's record haul of 22 Grand Slam trophies, after a straight-set victory over third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final, reported Xinhua.

The Serbian provided a defensive masterclass to overwhelm Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in two hours and 56 minutes, also ensuring his return to No. 1 in the world rankings.

Djokovic celebrated in a subdued fashion before he broke down emotionally. It was a particularly satisfying triumph for the Serbian, who had been controversially deported from Australia 12 months ago due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19.

"I don't take anything for granted. This has been one of the most challenging tournaments of my life considering [I did] not play here last year," Djokovic said. "This is probably the biggest victory of my life considering the circumstances."

The 35-year-old had had trouble earlier in the tournament with a hamstring injury, and had looked in major discomfort during a four-set victory over Enzo Couacaud in the second round.

But that was the only set he lost all tournament, although he was pushed hard by Tsitsipas, a mainstay high in the rankings in recent years, who is knocking on the door of a maiden Grand Slam title.

The 24-year-old fell to Djokovic for the 10th straight match, including having lost his only previous Grand Slam final in a five-set classic at the French Open in 2021.

"There is nothing that I didn't use in my advantage. There's nothing that I could have extracted more for today. I did everything possible," said Tsitsipas, whose career breakthrough was a fourth-round upset over the legendary Roger Federer in Melbourne in 2019.

"Novak is a player that pushes you to your limits," said Tsitsipas. "He has made me a much better player. He has made my levels of concentration higher and higher every single time I get to play him."

Tsitsipas started nervously and was under immediate pressure on his serve but saved two break points in the second game of the match.

The writing was on the wall and Tsitsipas lost his next service game as a ruthless Djokovic gained an early stranglehold.

Djokovic was never threatened on his serve and wrapped up the first set in 36 minutes.

In the second set, Tsitsipas played aggressively to rattle Djokovic. But he missed opportunities to make inroads in Djokovic's serve in the eighth game, before finally earning his first break point of the match in the 10th game.

As he has done so often during his legendary career, Djokovic stepped up with a blistering forehand winner and clung on to hold serve.

Tsitsipas was to rue his missed chance after stumbling with loose shots in the tiebreak, as Djokovic held his nerve to gain a two-set lead and a firm grip of the trophy.

On the brink of defeat, Tsitsipas finally broke Djokovic to start the third set but his fightback was short-lived as he failed to consolidate on serve.

They went toe-to-toe during a titanic tussle before Djokovic prevailed in another tiebreak to extend his record haul of Australian Open titles.

Meanwhile, Czech top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova defended their Australian Open women's doubles crown after defeating Japan's 10th-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara 6-4, 6-3.

It was the Czech pair's 24th straight win at a major and seventh Grand Slam title.