Novak Djokovic was in tears on Sunday as he celebrated his 10th Australian Open championship and his 22nd Grand Slam title. The win came after Djokovic had been deported from Australia the previous year for not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
The win was all the more significant for Djokovic, as he had struggled through a bad hamstring and off-court issues with his father. He claimed this was “probably the biggest victory of my life.” Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), and will move from No. 5 to No. 1 in the ATP rankings. He has held the top spot for more weeks than any other man.
Djokovic’s unbeaten streak in Melbourne has now reached 28 matches, the longest in the Open era. His victory brought his Grand Slam tally to 10 titles at the Australian Open, seven at Wimbledon, three at the US Open, and two at the French Open. He is now tied with Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam titles by a man. Only two women, Margaret Court with 24 titles and Serena Williams with 23, have more Grand Slam titles than Djokovic.
Djokovic’s 93rd ATP tour-level title broke a tie with Nadal for the fourth-most. Tsitsipas congratulated Djokovic on his victory and called him “the greatest that has ever held a tennis racket.” Djokovic was participating in his 33rd major final, while Tsitsipas was in his second. Tsitsipas had previously lost to Djokovic at the 2021 French Open.
Djokovic was superior throughout the final, especially in the two tiebreakers. He took a 4-1 lead in the first and reeled off the last three points. He led 5-0 in the closing tiebreaker, and when it finished, he pointed to his temple before screaming, a prelude to all of the tears. Djokovic acknowledged that he had faced numerous challenges in the tournament, and it had taken an enormous amount of mental and emotional energy to keep his focus.
Tsitsipas had played well throughout the match, aside from a few early miscues. Djokovic, however, was too unyielding and too accurate with his strokes, making just 22 unforced errors – 20 fewer than Tsitsipas. Djokovic was also faster and more flexible on the run. Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, praised his achievement, saying, “It was a really tough three weeks for him. He managed to overcome everything.”
The win was an emotional one for Djokovic, who has had a difficult two weeks leading up to the tournament. Last year, he was involved in a legal saga that saw him deported from Australia. Djokovic has alternately said that the experience served as a form of motivation, but also that it had been mentally and emotionally challenging. Nevertheless, he pushed on and ultimately emerged victorious.