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Novak Djokovic Captures His tenth Australian Open Men’s Singles Title


MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic got here to Australia with a mission, or, really, a series of them.

To win the championship he had won nine times over again. To win a twenty second Grand Slam men’s singles title and draw even together with his rival Rafael Nadal at the highest of that list. To remove any doubt anyone may need about whether he stays the world’s dominant player, essentially the most commanding player of the last decade and now this one, too. To point out the world that the one approach to keep him from winning nearly any tennis tournament is to not let him play.

Check. Check. Check. And check.

A 12 months after Australia deported him over his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, Novak Djokovic reclaimed the Grand Slam title he has won greater than some other, capturing a record tenth championship on the Australian Open by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) on Sunday.

After one last forehand off Tsitsipas’s racket floated long to finish a match that felt lopsided despite the 2 tiebreakers, Djokovic turned and stared at his family and coaches sitting in his box. He pointed to his head, his heart after which slightly below his waistband, letting the world in on his team’s code language and telling it that winning on Sunday took the whole lot he had.

“It takes a giant heart, mental strength and the opposite thing as well,” he said with amusing once the night had become the early morning.

He wore a jacket emblazoned with a vibrant number 22 just below the fitting side of his collarbone and

called this triumph “the most important victory in my life.”

The 12 months’s first Grand Slam event runs from Jan. 16 to Jan. 29 in Melbourne.

  • Coaching That Feels Like ‘Cheating’: In-match coaching has all the time happened on the sly, but this 12 months is the primary time the Australian Open has allowed players to be coached from the stands.
  • Rod Laver Likes What He Sees: At 84 years old, the person together with his name on the stadium sits courtside on the Australian Open.
  • India’s Superstar: Sania Mirza, who leaves tennis as a sleeping giant, has been a trailblazer nonetheless. “I would love to have a quieter life,” she said.
  • Behind the Scenes: A coterie of billionaires, deep-pocketed firms and star players has engaged for months in a high-stakes battle to guide what they view as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to disrupt the game.

Along with gaining pole position to surge past the injured star Nadal on the profession Grand Slam list — and within the G.O.A.T. debate — Djokovic also reclaimed the highest spot on this planet rankings, making him, at 35, the second-oldest player to succeed in that rarefied realm, behind only Roger Federer, who was nearly 37 during his last stint on top of the tennis world. Djokovic turns 36 on May 22. It’s probably a foul idea to bet against his taking that record from Federer, as he has so many others.

The feat is much more noteworthy given how much tennis Djokovic has needed to miss within the last 12 months. He can’t play in the USA due to his refusal to get a Covid-19 shot. Unless there’s a change in that policy, he’ll again miss a serious tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., in March, and the hard court swing this summer, which incorporates the U.S. Open.

He’s either stubborn or a person of principle — and more likely each.

Djokovic’s rating sheets on this tournament might suggest that these last two weeks were little greater than a vacation down under, with some tennis thrown in. He dropped only a single set in seven matches. His fourth-round, quarterfinal and semifinal tests were nearly complete wipeouts of opponents.

When Djokovic is on as he was within the second week of this tournament, his game is all about firsts. Line-scraping first serves that give him the primary point of his service games. First breaks of his opponents’ serves that grow to be a primary dagger, and first-set wins for a player who rarely lets anyone creep back right into a match.

He doesn’t let opponents catch their breath, smacking returns at their shins, forcing them to hit one more shot, after which one other one, after they think they’ve won some extent. It’s tennis as a type of suffocation. Tommy Paul, the American who was Djokovic’s victim within the semifinal, said when it was over that much of the primary set had been a blur. Paul has played tennis his whole life, but this time, the seconds between points, between the moment he hit a ball and the moment he was on the run chasing the subsequent one, have never passed so quickly.

Andrey Rublev, a Russian with a fearsome forehand and serve, paced within the hallway within the minutes before being called onto the court.

Within the fourth round, Alex de Minaur, playing in front of a hometown crowd able to cheer him into battle, won just five games. After demolishing de Minaur, Djokovic said to the Serbian press that playing against an Australian in Australia had motivated him due to what the country’s government had done to him last 12 months, detaining and deporting him due to his notoriety and his stance against mandated vaccinations.

But Djokovic’s reclamation mission in Australia was stuffed with hazards. Ahead of the tournament, he aggravated his hamstring, forcing him to take the court wearing a thick strapping across the injured area until the ultimate. He hobbled through the primary week, playing without the magical movement that’s the inspiration of his game.

Goran Ivanisevic, Djokovic’s coach, said 97 percent of players would have pulled out of the tournament.

“He’s from outer space,” Ivanisevic said of Djokovic, who became much more aggressive due to his injury, smacking his forehand at any time when he saw a probability to finish some extent quickly. “His brain works in another way.”

After which, as with so lots of his previous injuries, a mixture of rest, massages and painkillers made the pain and discomfort go away when it mattered most. He heard the noise on social media questioning whether the leg had ever been hurt in any respect, and shot back that nobody ever questioned the validity of other players’ injuries — an unsubtle reference to the all the time banged-up Nadal.

Then, just as he was hitting top speed, his father, Srdjan, was caught on video taking an image with fans outside Rod Laver Arena, a few of whom were holding Russian flags, after Djokovic’s win within the quarterfinals. Serbia and Russia have close political and cultural ties. Tennis crowds outside Serbia almost all the time arrive with some hostility for Djokovic, and so they pull hard for his opponents, who are often underdogs.

Djokovic handled Paul after which handled the general public, assuring everyone that his father had never meant to point out support for the war in Ukraine, that as a someone who grew up within the war-torn Balkans he knew the horrors of violent conflict and would never support it.

After that, only Tsitsipas, for years seen as tennis’s heir apparent, stood in his way.

Perhaps Sunday night in Australia, where the big, spirited Greek population has turned Tsitsipas into an adopted son, can be the night, especially with the No. 1 rating on the road.

Nevertheless, possibly not. Tsitsipas got here out without the benefit and fluidity that he had played with for nearly two weeks, and he fell behind early. Djokovic barely looked as if it would break a sweat as he took the primary set.

Within the second set, though, Tsitsipas’s arm looked as if it would loosen, the forehands began to bang and the windmill one-hand backhands began to whip.

This can undoubtedly be the hour that keeps Tsitsipas up at night in the approaching weeks. The netted volley that might have given him a probability to interrupt Djokovic’s serve at 4-3. The tentative return of Djokovic’s meatball of a second serve when Tsitsipas had set point. The long forehand and the loose backhand — the stroke Djokovic picked on all night that gave him the sting he wouldn’t surrender within the tiebreaker.

“He’s the best that has ever held a tennis racket,” Tsitsipas said of Djokovic as he held his runner-up plate over again.

Djokovic is the sport’s best front-runner, winning roughly 95 percent of the matches during which he wins the primary set. He has lost a two-set lead just once, 13 years ago.

They traded service breaks in the primary two games of the third set, after which traded service games until one more tiebreaker. Just like the match itself, this one was not nearly as close as the ultimate numbers. Tsitsipas sprayed his shots long and into the online, allowing Djokovic to grab a 5-0 lead.

And while Tsitsipas made it close, winning five of the subsequent six points, as Djokovic tightened his game and Tsitsipas swung his racket with nothing to lose, there was little query how this might end — only when.

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