Serbia star Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Greece in straight sets to win his 22nd Grand Slam title after missing last year's tournament after being ejected for not being vaccinated against Covid-19 .
Novak Djokovic won his 10th men's singles title at the Australian Open, while also reclaiming the world No. 1 title. Photo credit: Dita Alangkara/Associated Press
MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic came to Australia with a mission, or indeed a series of missions.
He went on to win nine more times in pursuit of the title. Win the 22nd Grand Slam men's singles title, tying the top rival Rafael Nadal. Dispelling any doubt as to whether he is still the ruler of the world, the most dominant player of the past and present decade. Show the world that the only way to stop him from winning almost every tennis match is to keep him out of court.
confirm. confirm. confirm. and check.
A year after Australia expelled him for refusing to vaccinate against Covid-19, Novak Djokovic reclaimed his Grand Slam title, winning more titles than anyone else, 6-3 Beat Stefanos Tsitsipas for a 10th league title at the Australian Open, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) on Sunday.
After a final forehand floated far from Tsitsipas' racket, ending a match that felt one-sided despite two tiebreakers, Djokovic turned and stared at his family and coaches in the box. He pointed to his head, his heart, and then below his belt, letting the world know his team's code language and telling them that Sunday's win cost him everything.
"It takes a big heart and mental strength and stuff," he said with a laugh, after night turned morning.
He wore a jacket with the number 22 illuminated just below the right side of his collarbone,
Calling the victory "the greatest victory of my life."
Djokovic not only surpassed injured star Nadal for pole position in the career Grand Slam list and GOAT debate, but also reclaimed the top spot in the world rankings, making him the second oldest player at 35 This exquisite empire is second only to Roger Federer, who was almost 37 years old when he last reached the top of the tennis world. On May 22, Djokovic will turn 36. It might be a bad idea to bet that he doesn't take that record away from Federer, as he has plenty of others.
The feat is all the more remarkable considering how much tennis Djokovic missed last year. He can't play in the US because he refuses to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Unless that policy changes, he will again miss the big tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., in March and his hard-court swing this summer, which includes the U.S. Open.
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He's either stubborn or principled - more likely a combination of both.
Djokovic's report card at this tournament may suggest that the past two weeks have been little more than a holiday in Australia and a bit of tennis. He lost just one set in seven matches. His tests in the fourth round, quarter-finals and semi-finals were almost total obliteration of opponents.
Djokovic called the victory "the biggest victory of my life". Credit: Loren Elliott/Reuters
When Djokovic plays like he did in the second week of this tournament, his game is the first. A line-breaker gave him the first point on serve. The first break of the opponent's serve became the first dagger, and for a player who rarely let anyone sneak back into the game, the first set was won.
He doesn't let his opponents catch their breath, hitting them in the shin and forcing them to punch again, and then punching again after they think they've won a point. Tennis is a suffocation. American Tommy Paul, who was Djokovic's victim in the semifinals, said much of the first set was a blur after the first set was over. Paul has played tennis all his life, but this time, the seconds between the moment he hits the ball and the moment he runs off to catch the next ball are lost like never before.
Andrey Rublev, a Russian with a great forehand and serve, was walking up and down the corridor in the minutes before he was called on.
Playing in front of a hometown crowd in the fourth round, Alex de Minaur was set to field him and won just five games. After defeating De Minaur, Djokovic told Serbian media that playing against an Australian in Australia inspired him as the country's government did to him last year and arrested and deported him because of his notoriety. and his stance against mandatory vaccinations.
But Djokovic's recovery mission in Australia is fraught with danger. Before the game, his hamstring was aggravated, forcing him to walk on the court with a thick belt wrapped around the injured area until the final. He staggered through the first week, playing without the magic movement that was the foundation of his game.
Djokovic's coach, Goran Ivanisevic, said 97 percent of the players dropped out.
"He's from space," Ivanisevic said of Djokovic, who has become more aggressive because of his injury, hitting forehands whenever he sees an opportunity to close a point quickly. "His brain works differently."
Then, like so many of his previous injuries, a combination of rest, massage and pain medication made the pain go away when it was needed most. Hearing the clamor on social media about whether the leg was injured, he shot back that no one questioned the validity of other players' injuries - a straightforward reference to the always battered Nadal.