Novak Djokovic (Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas Sunday to claim a 10th Australian Open
title and equal Rafael Nadal’s 22 Grand Slam crowns, a victory that returned
him to world number one.
star overcame a hamstring injury and off-court drama on his return to Melbourne
Park to sweep past the Greek third seed 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5) on Rod Laver
He surged to
victory without father Srdjan in the stands after he sparked controversy by
posing with a fan carrying a Russian flag featuring Vladimir Putin’s face
following his son’s quarter-final win.
climbed to his player’s box after the win to embrace his mother and broke down
in uncontrollable tears, collapsing to the ground sobbing.
It capped a
remarkable comeback by the 35-year-old fourth seed, who missed last year’s
tournament when he was deported over his Covid vaccination stance.
three-year ban from Australia was lifted, Djokovic won the lead-up Adelaide
International before reinforcing his stature as an all-time great in Melbourne.
win drew him level with Nadal on a record 22 Slams, two clear of Roger Federer.
great made a shock second-round exit with a hip injury but is targeting a
return for the clay-court season and another crack at the French Open, and with
it, a 23rd Slam title.
though, is set to slide down the rankings when they are released on Monday, in
contrast to Djokovic, who will dethrone Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz and
return to the top for the first time since June. Tsitsipas will climb one place
were back on a court that helped them rise to stardom.
his first Grand Slam in 2008 at Rod Laver Arena, while Tsitsipas burst on the
scene in 2019 when he stunned defending champion Federer in the last 16.
There was a
raucous atmosphere with sizeable Greek and Serbian communities in Melbourne and
Rod Laver in attendance.
came into the match with his confidence high, having won all nine of his
previous Australian Open finals and with a 10-2 career advantage over the
freely with only minimal strapping on his troublesome left hamstring, he opened
with a comfortable hold after being greeted by huge cheers.
worked two break points on Tsitsipas’s opening serve, to no avail, but kept
probing, and the Greek handed him a break for 3-1 with a careless double fault.
in only his second Grand Slam final to Djokovic’s 33rd, appeared nervous,
losing the first set in just 36 minutes.
battled back into contention in a much closer second set as his confidence
grew, improving his serve and winning some pressure points.
his first break point — and set point — when Djokovic blasted a backhand
But the Serb
clung on to keep the set on serve, and it went to a tiebreak, where his greater
experience came to the fore.
odds, Tsitsipas broke for the first time on Djokovic’s opening serve in set
three, only to relinquish the advantage immediately after a gripping rally,
furious with himself.
went to a tiebreak, where Djokovic once again raised a level to claim another