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Novak Djokovic beats Stefanos Tsitsipas

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Novak Djokovic discovered this journey to Australia far simpler, and way more profitable, than that of a yr in the past.

Unable to enter his finest occasion in 2022 after being deported from the nation as a result of he was not vaccinated towards Covid-19, Djokovic completed 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 remaining on Sunday evening, Djokovic was merely higher on the most important 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 general. 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.

“I wish to say this has been one of the vital difficult tournaments I’ve ever performed in my life, contemplating the circumstances. Not enjoying final yr; coming again this yr,” Djokovic mentioned, carrying a zip-up white jacket with a “22” on his chest. “And I wish to thank all of the people who made me really feel welcome, made me really feel comfy, to be in Melbourne, to be in Australia.”

And a second later, he uttered a press release that’s actually important, given all of the 35-year-old from Serbia has performed on a tennis court docket: “This in all probability is the, I might say, greatest victory of my life.”

Djokovic stretched his unbeaten streak in Melbourne to twenty-eight matches, the longest run there within the Open period, which dates to 1968. He provides trophy No. 10 to the seven from Wimbledon, three from the U.S. Open — the place he additionally was absent final yr due to no coronavirus photographs — and two on the French Open, to match rival Rafael Nadal for essentially the most by a person.

Solely two ladies — Margaret Court docket, with 24, and Serena Williams, with 23 — are forward of him.

This was additionally the 93rd ATP tour-level title for Djokovic, breaking a tie with Nadal for the fourth-most.

“I wish to thanks for pushing our sport to date,” Tsitsipas advised Djokovic.

Djokovic was collaborating in his thirty third main remaining, Tsitsipas in his second — and the 24-year-old from Greece’s different one additionally led to a loss to Djokovic, on the 2021 French Open.

Superior all through on this cool night underneath a cloud-filled sky, Djokovic was particularly so within the two tiebreakers. He took a 4-1 lead within the first, then reeled off the final three factors. He led 5-0 within the closing tiebreaker and, when it completed, he pointed to his temple earlier than climbing into the stands, the place he pumped his fist and jumped along with his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, and different members of the entourage, then collapsed, crying.

When Djokovic returned to the enjoying floor, he sat on his sideline bench, buried his face in a white towel, and sobbed some extra.

Little doubt that is of no solace to Tsitsipas, however there is no such thing as a disgrace in failing to defeat Djokovic in Melbourne. Difficult his dominion on these blue arduous courts is each bit the monumental process that taking up Nadal on the pink clay at Roland Garros is.

Maybe surprisingly, Tsitsipas was prepared 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 no less than 5 strokes, Djokovic received 43, Tsitsipas 30.

Then once more, on these uncommon events that Tsitsipas did cost the web, he probably regretted the choice, as a result of Djokovic usually conjured up a passing shot that was too powerful to deal with.

The trophy for which they had been enjoying was displayed on a pedestal close to a nook of the court docket, and each males would get inside attain of it at any time when wandering over to towel off between factors at that finish. So shut, sure, however for Tsitsipas, by no means actually shut sufficient.

It isn’t as if he performed all that poorly, aside from a rash of early miscues that appeared to be extra a product of pressure than something.

It is that Djokovic was, put merely, too unyielding. Too correct along with his strokes, making merely 22 unforced errors, 20 fewer than his foe. Too speedy and versatile chasing photographs (aside from on one second-set level, when, operating to his left, Djokovic took a tumble).

Djokovic pushes and pushes and pushes some extra, till it is the opponent who’s one thing lower than good on one swing, both lacking or offering a gap to pounce.

That is what occurred when Tsitsipas held his first break level — which was additionally a set level — whereas forward 5-4 within the second and Djokovic serving at 30-40. May this be a fulcrum? May the end result’s tilt change? May Djokovic relent? May Tsitsipas surge?

Uh, no.

A 15-stroke level concluded with Djokovic smacking a cross-court forehand winner that felt like a press release. Two misses by Tsitsipas adopted: A backhand lengthy, a forehand broad. These felt like capitulation. Even when Tsitsipas truly did break within the third, Djokovic broke proper again.

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 yr’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 type of reception he would get when allowed to go to Australia this time as a result of pandemic restrictions had been eased.

He heard a ton of loud assist, but additionally handled some persistent heckling whereas competing, together with applause after 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.

After which there was the extra difficult matter of his father, Srdjan, being filmed with a bunch of individuals with Russian flags — one with a picture of Vladimir Putin — after Djokovic’s quarterfinal. The event banned spectators from bringing in flags of Russia or Belarus, saying they might trigger disruption due to the continuing invasion of Ukraine. Djokovic and his father mentioned it was a misunderstanding; Srdjan thought he was with Serbian followers.

Nonetheless, Srdjan Djokovic didn’t attend his son’s semifinal or the ultimate.

Irrespective of any of it, Djokovic excelled as he so usually has, profitable 17 units in a row after ceding one within the second spherical final week.

“He’s the best,” Tsitsipas mentioned, “that has ever held a tennis racket.”

Supply: www.cnbc.com

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