Melbourne, Australia — Novak Djokovic discovered this journey to Australia far easier, and much more profitable, than that of a year ago.
Unable to enter his finest occasion in 2022 after being deported from the nation as a result of he was not vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19, Djokovic achieved all he may have needed in his return: He resumed his profitable methods at Melbourne Park and made it again to the highest of tennis.
Solely briefly challenged within the closing on Sunday night time, Djokovic was merely higher on the most vital moments and beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) for a record-extending tenth Australian Open championship and record-tying twenty second Grand Slam title total. As a bonus, Djokovic will vault from No. 5 to No. 1 within the ATP rankings, a spot he already has held for extra weeks than every other man.
“He is the best that has ever held a tennis racket,” Tsitsipas mentioned.
Djokovic stretched his unbeaten streak in Melbourne to twenty-eight matches, the longest run on the match for a person within the Open period, which dates to 1968. He provides trophy No. 10 there to the seven from Wimbledon, three from the U.S. Open — the place he additionally was absent final 12 months due to no coronavirus photographs — and two on the French Open, to match rival Rafael Nadal for probably the most by a person in tennis historical past.
Margaret Courtroom, with 24, Serena Williams, with 23, and Steffi Graf, with 22, have probably the most amongst girls.
This was additionally the 93rd ATP tour-level title for Djokovic, permitting the 35-year-old from Serbia to interrupt a tie with Nadal for the fourth-most. Jimmy Connors holds that mark, at 109.
Djokovic was taking part in his thirty third main closing, Tsitsipas in his second — and the 24-year-old from Greece’s different one additionally resulted in a loss to Djokovic, on the 2021 French Open.
He was superior all through in opposition to Tsitsipas, however particularly so within the two tiebreakers. He took a 4-1 lead within the first and after it was 4-all, pulled off three factors in a row. He led 5-0 within the closing tiebreaker and, when it completed, he pointed to his temple then climbed into the stands, pumped his fist and jumped together with his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, and different members of the entourage, and collapsed, crying.
Little doubt that is of no solace to Tsitsipas, however there isn’t any disgrace in failing to defeat Djokovic in Melbourne. Difficult his dominion on these blue exhausting courts is each bit the monumental activity that taking over Nadal on the purple clay at Roland Garros is.
Maybe surprisingly, Tsitsipas was keen to interact within the form of leg-wearying, lung-searing back-and-forths upon which Djokovic has constructed his superlative profession. How did that work out? Of factors lasting at the very least 5 strokes, Djokovic gained 43, Tsitsipas 30.
Then once more, on these uncommon events that Tsitsipas did cost the web, he seemingly regretted the selection, as a result of Djokovic typically conjured up a passing shot that was too robust to deal with.
One among Djokovic’s many different strengths is his return sport, and he amassed three break factors inside 17 minutes, changing the final for a fast 3-1 lead when Tsitsipas double-faulted.
The trophy for which they have been taking part in was displayed on a pedestal close to a nook of the courtroom, and each males would get inside attain of it every time wandering over to towel off between factors at that finish.
So shut, sure, however for Tsitsipas, by no means really shut sufficient.
It is not as if Tsitsipas performed all that poorly, aside from a rash of early miscues that appeared to be extra a product of stress than something.
It is that Djokovic was, put merely, too good. Too correct together with his strokes — making merely 22 unforced errors, 20 fewer than his foe — and anticipation. Too speedy and versatile chasing photographs (aside from on one second-set level, when, operating to his left, Djokovic took a tumble). Too harmful together with his returns and damaging sufficient together with his serves.
Djokovic pushes and pushes and pushes some extra, till it is the opponent who’s one thing lower than good on one shot, both lacking or offering a gap to pounce.
There was greater than forehands and backhands on Djokovic’s thoughts over the previous two weeks.
There was the not-so-small matter of final 12 months’s authorized saga — he has alternately acknowledged the entire thing served as a type of motivation but additionally mentioned the opposite day, “I am over it” — and curiosity in regards to the form of reception he would get.
He heard a ton of loud assist, but additionally handled some persistent heckling whereas competing, together with applause after the faults Sunday.
There was the sore left hamstring that has been closely bandaged for each match — till the ultimate, that’s, when solely a single piece of beige athletic tape was seen — and had apprehensive him in the beginning of Week 1, prompting him to show to what he mentioned was “quite a bit” of pain-killing tablets and different therapies he did not element.
After which there was the extra difficult matter of his father, Srdjan, being filmed with a gaggle of individuals with Russian flags — one with a picture of Vladimir Putin — after Djokovic’s quarterfinal victory. The match banned spectators from bringing in flags of Russia or Belarus, saying they might trigger disruption due to the continuing invasion of Ukraine. Each Djokovic and his father mentioned it was a misunderstanding, primarily based on Srdjan pondering he was with a gaggle of Serbian followers.
Due to that episode, Srdjan Djokovic didn’t attend his son’s semifinal victory over Tommy Paul on Friday, and was not seen within the Djokovic visitor field on Sunday.
Regardless of any of it, Djokovic managed to excel as he so typically does, profitable 17 units in a row after ceding one within the second spherical final week.