Novak Djokovic stamped his invincibility in Melbourne as he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6/3, 7/6(4), 7/6(4) in three hours and 10 minutes of action at the Rod Laver Arena. It was his 10th straight victory in a final match of the Australian Open and it tied Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 grand slam titles.
Djokovic took the first point of the match, on his serve as Tsitsipas missed a service return. He held serve at love while his opponent was taken to deuce before leveling. The critical service break occurred in the fourth game when Tsitsipas served a double fault. The gap remained to the end of the first set after 36 minutes of play.
The second set was a 70-minute battle. Each player held serve, but in the 10th game, Djokovic saved a break point that could have given Tsitsipas the second set. Thereafter, he got the first advantage and clinched the game for five-all.
Tsitsipas delivered his 10th ace of the match in winning the 11th game at love. But he lost the first point on serve in the tiebreak and conceded two min-breaks for a 4-2 Djokovic lead at changeover.
The Serb served his second match double fault to 4-3, but took three consecutive points to win the tie break by seven points to four. Djokovic saved three break points in the first game of the third set, but Tsitsipas cancelled a break point in the second game. None of the remaining games in the set reached deuce, but Tsitsipas had a close shave before taking the 10th game while serving to save the match at 4-5.
The Greek star also had the same critical point in the 12th game, which he held with the help of his 15th ace. Djokovic took the first point on serve in the tie break and after Tsitsipas conceded two service points, the Serb took a 5-0 lead that progressed to the match point, which Tsitsipas lost when he returned a serve into the net.
After winning the last point, Djokovic looked up for a few moments staring into the sky. He then walked up to his opponent and hugged him as they shook hands. He bent down, touched the court and his chest three times.
He ran across the court, threw his racquet into the stands for any lucky spectator to catch and climbed up to members of his support team in whose arms he sobbed.
The presentation ceremony commenced, again, with an expression of honour to the owners of the site, the aboriginal people, their elders and their elders’ ancestors.
The runner-up tray was presented by Ken Rosewall to Stefanos Tsitsipas, who said: “Novak brings out the best out of me. He is one of the greatest in our sport. He is the greatest player that has ever held a racquet.”
Djokovic donned a warm-up suit with the number 22 embroidered on it. He received the Norman Brookes challenge cup from Rosewall and held it aloft.
He thanked Stefanos “for being so kind and respectful. Although players are opponents on court, but we must respect each other.
“Our two countries, Greece and Serbia, are small and didn’t have a tennis tradition with players to look up to. Therefore, to all young boys or girls anywhere in the world, I say: pursue your dream. Nurture your dream. Don’t let anybody take the dream away from you.”
Rublev commented before this quarterfinal match against Djokovic. In seeking reasons for Djokovic’s seeming invincibility, attention must be placed on his Spartan training regime, special diet and ascetic life style. His concern about what goes into his body is legendary. It was the reason for his rejecting the COVID-19 vaccination, which caused his absence at the 2022 Australian Open. With the victory, Djokovic returned to the top spot in the rankings.