Novak Djokovic was simply too good Down Under. As usual.
Djokovic rolled to a 10th Australian Open title, improving to 10-0 in finals at the annual season-opening Grand Slam, with a 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday night. The 35-year-old triumphed after two hours and 56 minutes, coming full circle in Melbourne after being detained and deported prior to the 2022 tournament.
Only Enzo Couacaud managed to take a single set off Djokovic throughout the entire fortnight, but it was Tsitsipas who gave the Serb his toughest test from start to finish. Small margins in each set–a bad start to the first and a poor finishes to next two for the underdog Greek–ultimately led to another straight-set win for Djokovic.
The world No. 5, who will return to No. 1 on Monday, took immediate control with a break at 2-1 in the opener. He consolidated it the entire way for a quick set advantage before running into more trouble in sets two and three. Both players held all six of their service games in the second, after which Tsitsipas’ forehand cracked in the ensuing tiebreaker. The third seed gave back an early break in the third, thus forced to play yet another ‘breaker. Tsitsipas did well to battle some of the way out of a 5-0 hole, but eventually Djokovic capitalized on his third championship point–first on his own serve–at 6-5.
“This is one of the most challenging tournaments that I have ever played in my life,” Djokovic commented. “Not playing last year, coming back this year. I want to thank all the people who made me feel welcome. There is a reason why I have played my best tennis on this court, in front of legendary Rod Laver.”
Playing in his second Grand Slam final, Tsitsipas was hoping to capture his first slam title on the hallowed grounds of Rod Laver Arena. But the 24-year-old was once again denied by Djokovic, just as he had been in the 2021 French Open championship match–from two sets up, even, in that showdown.
“Novak, I don’t know what to say,” Tsitsipas praised during the trophy ceremony. “I think it speaks for itself with what you have achieved so far. It is all in the numbers, so congratulations; not only to yourself, but having such a supportive family. It has been such an unbelievable journey for you and I admire what you have done for our sport.
“[You] make me a better player when I am on court. Novak brings the best out of me and these are the matches I have been working my entire life for. He is one of the greatest.”
When it comes to the greatest of all time debate, the all-important major singles title count is now tied between Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at 22 apiece. Djokovic and Nadal are now the only players with at least 10 titles at a single slam (the Spaniard is 14-0 lifetime in French Open finals).