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An emotional Djokovic wins “the most important” title of his life and equals Nadal’s record: “I don’t want to stop here”

emoticional Djokovic
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MELBOURNE – On the court that bears Rod Laver’s name, Novak Djokovic keeps breaking records. He continues to crush his rivals. Nullifying their game, leaving them without ideas. Throwing away any approach that aims to hurt him. He shrinks them, makes them look like ordinary players.

The victim on duty was the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who came for six matches in Melbourne showing one of the best versions, emboldened since the preseason with the goal of being Grand Slam champion and number one for the first time in his career.

But in front was a Djokovic too solid that dampens the powder to whoever challenges him. It frustrates them, only allows them to shine for passages, and it seems as if it takes away their energy.

On Sunday night in Melbourne, Djokovic overwhelmed the Greek by 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) and 7-6 (7-3) and lifted the Australian Open for the tenth time. Thus, he tied Rafael Nadal in the count that matters most.

Four years ago, when Roger Federer was the two-time defending Australian Open champion and record holder for most Grand Slam titles, Laver saw the future.

Among men, the Swiss led the most important statistic in tennis over Nadal and Djokovic. Federer accumulated twenty Grand Slams, the Spaniard had 17, while the Serb was “just” tied with North American Pete Sampras (14).

“Novak is going to win more than anyone else. Rafa has a few more years left, but it’s just that his game is very hard on his body. He suffers a lot of injuries and has to withdraw from tournaments here and there. Roger? I’m not sure he can win many more. He has a chance at Wimbledon because he is a grass-court player”, predicted the champion of twelve Grand Slams when asked by the author of this article.

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It was January 2019, and to date, in 2023, Laver’s forecast is still approaching perfection. Federer had the great option of being champion in London that year, but he let go two match points with his serve against Djokovic and never won a big title again. Nadal went on to win several more majors, but to this day struggles with injuries, and Djokovic… Djokovic rest tonight at the top of that count. Displaying his 22nd major title, sharing the spot with his long life rival Nadal.

“I am motivated to win as many Slams as possible. At this stage of my career, these trophies are the biggest motivational factor of why I still compete. I never really liked comparing myself to others, but of course it’s a privilege to be part of the discussion as one of the greatest players of all time. I still have lots of motivation. I really don’t want to stop here”, the Serb said.

He regained the lead in the ATP ranking. The Serbians of Melbourne, Australia and the world celebrate because the greatest athlete in their history, returns to reign in the territory that a year ago left such a bitter taste.

“It’s the most important victory of my life, given the circumstances,” said Djokovic, emotional at the awards ceremony. Later, in front of the reporters, he confessed he was more nervous coming into Australia after the episode of the deportation in 2022: “I didn’t know how I was going to be received by the people. But overall it was a very positive experience.”

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Djokovic bok
Novak Djokovic celebrates with his inner circle // REUTERS

Emotional Djokovic as never seen before

After Tsitsipas sent the last ball out, Djokovic celebrated with the Carlos Alcaraz’ trademark. He pointed with his index his head, his heart and his genitals: “It takes, yeah, big heart, of course a lot of mental strength, and the third thing as well to make it.”

The first few minutes as the ten-time Australian champion offered scenes Djokovic has never shown before. He was crying like a kid, hugging the people of his inner circle, and collapsing under crushing emotion. The relief was definetly more than the euphoria, explained by off-the-court events that involved his father.

“The events of last few days with my father, that were not easy for me to handle, especially at these last stages of a Grand Slam. But I had to keep it together. That’s why it took enormous amount of mental and emotional energy to really keep it tight, keep my focus,” Djokovic explained.

Laver watched from the front row. Next to his friend and partner in life and career, Ken Rosewall. Both australian legends witnessing a  diametrically different tennis from that they used to play.

A millionaire tennis, aggressive for the body, fast and dynamic. A modern tennis that already has the most winning man of the present, that keeps breaking the records of the past.

 

photo: REGINA CORTINA

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