Here’s the recent news on the Australian Open: The men’s final was played on Sunday, 29 January and Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas on Rod Laver Arena – 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5). ‘He is the greatest tennis player’ – Djokovic equals Rafael Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam titles.
Novak Djokovic came up with a new and unexpected celebration after claiming his 10th Australian Open title. Rather than lying on his back in a conventional manner, he pointed at his head, then his heart, then finally his underpants.
The man does indeed have cojones.
Asked about the gesture after the match, he replied ”It’s a little code language we have. They (his entourage) understand. It takes, yeah, a big heart, of course, a lot of mental strength, and the third thing as well to make it.”
Djokovic is so superior to his rivals that he had just eased through the tournament despite carrying a hamstring injury since day one.
After all the adversity he has faced – from the echoes of last year’s deportation to the controversy around his father, Srdjan – the last fortnight has been testing on numerous levels.
But he quelled the rough seas around him and eventually arrived at his goal.
The emotions spilled out after his victory, and he sat in his courtside chair and sobbed into his towel, releasing the tension of a stress-filled month.
”Only my team and family know what we have been through these past four to five weeks,” said Djokovic during his presentation speech. ”This is probably the biggest victory in my life, considering the circumstances.”
Djokovic, cheekily, donned a jacket with the number “22” during the ceremony, adding a playful touch to the event.
With 22 Grand Slam titles, he matches Rafael Nadal, fueling the “G.O.A.T race” for the tennis “greatest of all time” title.
Tsitsipas has already come to his conclusion, telling the Rod Laver Arena crowd that, ”He is the greatest that has ever held a tennis racket for sure.”
Today’s performance suggests he could dominate this year, creating distance from the ”Big Three” in tennis.
After the presentation, Djokovic spoke about his tearful moment. ”It was just one of those moments where you feel a huge burden is off your back,” he said. ”It was a huge relief. At that point, when I hugged my mother and brother, especially, I just teared up and got very emotional and collapsed on the floor and started crying.
I just was releasing all the emotions that had gotten stuck because I had to find the strong masculine energy to sustain the pressure of going all the way.”
Earlier, Djokovic had arrived on the court without the heavy strapping that had encircled his left thigh for the rest of the tournament. Did this rattle his opponent?
Tsitsipas struggled initially, framing groundstrokes and facing challenges with his first serve. Perhaps this contributed to his disappointing start.
The second set found Tsitsipas taking the initiative. He didn’t allow Djojovic a single breakpoint, which is another rarity.
But he couldn’t convert his opportunity (only one) and lost his nerve in a jittery tie-break from both men.
Tsitsipas was philosophical after the match, suggesting that ”getting our asses kicked is for sure a very good lesson every single time.”
Examining his forehand stats, 11 winners, and 27 errors, he questions its performance. Djokovic’s remarkable court coverage, undiminished since 2008, contributed to the challenge even in his 36th year.
Securing victory in the third set tie-break, he finished the night having lost only one set in the tournament. That sole setback occurred when his hamstring troubled him against Enzo Couacaud in the second round.
”A lot of people doubted I was injured,” Djokovic told Channel Nine afterward. ”It did affect me in the first week. I highly doubt if it weren’t a major, I would keep playing because I didn’t practise between the matches.”
Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic also gave his perspective on the problematic hamstring. ”Ninety-seven percent of the players, on Saturday when you get the result of the MRI scan, you go straight to the referee’s office and pull out of the tournament, ” said Ivanisevic.
”But not him. He is from outer space.”
Celebrating beneath the stadium, Djokovic shared his victory with his father, Srdjan. Srdjan had avoided courtside after a controversial photograph on Wednesday with pro-Putin supporters.
”Of course, there were things that were happening, also events of last few days with my father, that were not easy for me to handle,” said Djokovic later. ”I thought things will calm down in terms of media and everything, but they didn’t.
We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there. That hurts him and me greatly because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they will repeat again? So it was not easy for him.” Still, Djokovic has plenty to like, as his 10th AO title returned him to his rightful place as world No.1.
Next on his agenda is Dubai starting February 27. He hopes the USA will relax its vaccination policy for Indian Wells (March 6).
As to whether he will win more majors, he replied ominously, ”I like my chances.”
With acknowledgment and thanks to the Telegraph Sports department and Simon Briggs.
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