Djokovic’s 10/10 performance to win Aus Open

IT was as clinical as any before it, but Serbian Novak Djokovic‘s 10th Australian Open title meant more to him than his previous nine. As his opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas groundstroke went long on the third Championship point, Djokovic turned to his box, pointed to his head and then his heart, indicating the struggles he had to overcome returning to the country he had been deported from just 12 months earlier.

The match itself was one of his toughest of the tournament, and while he still won in straight sets, his Greek opponent pushed him all the way. Across two hours and 56 minutes, Djokovic just found a way, winning 6-3 7-6 7-6, with the tiebreakers being two of the most impressive moments of the match. After Tsitsipas had gone toe-for-toe with the former, and now as of today, current world number one, it was like he reached a bar that only Djokovic could surpass.

In the almost three-hour epic Grand Slam final, Tsitsipas served 15 aces and only three doubles faults, and won 72 per cent of his first serve points off a 65 per cent clip. He hit 40 winners for 42 unforced errors and only won 18 less points than his opponent. After losing the first set, Tsitsipas had just eight less points to his name, but it was the tiebreakers that cost him. When Djokovic stepped up, Tsitsipas could not go with him, and he made a few critical errors when it counted, and that was all the Serbian star needed.

In the win, Djokovic served seven aces among 36 winners and only 22 unforced errors. He only broke twice from five chances, but was near-unbreakable bar the start of the third set. He won 82 per cent of his first serve points, and 62 per cent off his second, putting the ball in off that dominant first serve two thirds of the time. Anything Tsitsipas could muster up, Djokovic found a way to counter, and while the Greek third seed’s forehand did trouble Djokovic at times, he forced Tsitsipas onto his backhand and won through smarts and placement.

“This is one of the most challenging tournaments that I have ever played in my life,” Djokovic said post-match. “Not playing last year, coming back this year. I want to thank all the people who made me feel welcome. There is a reason why I have played my best tennis on this court, in front of legendary Rod Laver.

“It is a long journey. All my team and family knows what we have been through in the past four or five weeks and this is probably the biggest victory of my life.”

With the 2023 Australian Open title in the bag, Djokovic joins rival Rafael Nadal on a record 22 Grand Slam titles, and regains the world number one spot off Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. For Tsitsipas, he moves up to third spot, leapfrogging Casper Ruud, and though he fell short at Melbourne Park, will be a contender for many years to come.

“Novak, I don’t know what to say. I think it speaks for itself with what you have achieved so far,” Tsitsipas said. “It is all in the numbers, so congratulations. Not only to yourself but having such a supportive family. It has been such an unbelievable journey for you and I admire what you have done for our sport.

“[You] make me a better player when I am on court. Novak brings the best out of me and these are the matches I have been working my entire life for. He is one of the greatest in our sport.”

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