A year after being deported days before the Australian Open started, Novak Djokovic lifted the 2023 Australian Open trophy with a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
With the win, the 35-year-old Serbian star extended his record at Melbourne Park to 10 titles and tied Rafael Nadal's career record of 22 Grand Slam titles. The world's No. 5 ranked player has now won 28 consecutive Australian Open matches and holds a 20-0 record in semifinals and finals in this tournament. Overall, this marked Djokovic's 93rd ATP title.
He won the first set with relative ease before Tsitsipas turned it on and forced tiebreakers in the final two sets. But in both tiebreakers, Djokovic was simply overpowering. He jumped out to 4-1 advantage in the first one after it hit 4-4, winning the last three points to take the second set. He smelled a victory in the final tiebreaker and promptly jumped out to a 5-0 lead before ending the match.
🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 CHAMPION 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆@DjokerNole has mastered Melbourne for a TENTH time!@wwos • @espn • @eurosport • @wowowtennis • #AusOpen • #AO2023 pic.twitter.com/ZThnTrIXdt— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2023
Moments after the victory, Djokovic found coach Goran Ivanisevic in the crowd and went to celebrate with him and others. Upon returning to the court, the Serbian sat on the bench nearest his side and began crying -- and for good reason. He has spent a record 373 weeks as world No. 1 through his career, and will find himself jumping four spots to be back on top in the next ATP rankings.
"This has been one of the most difficult tournaments, considering the circumstances. not playing last year coming back this year," Djokovic said after the match, The Guardian reported. "I want to thank all the people who made me feel comfortable. There is a reason I have been playing may best tennis here."
Djokovic went on to say it was "the biggest" win in his career.
"Only the team and family knows what we have been though in the last four or five weeks," he said. "This is probably, I would say -- the biggest victory in my life, considering the circumstances."
Djokovic came into the tournament with hamstring discomfort from an injury he suffered at the Adelaide International -- a tournament he also won -- earlier in January. The injury reared its head at Australian Open, including early in his quarterfinal match with Andrey Rublev, but Djokovic pushed through.
His deportation last year from this very tournament was due to his COVID-19 vaccination status, but he was allowed back in Australia after the country relaxed its vaccine restrictions. In the days leading up to this year's Australian Open, Djokovic said there were no hard feelings with how everything went down in 2022.
"It's all in the numbers. You make me a better player when I am on the court," Tsitsipas said. "I have had the privilege to play a lot of high intensity game but these are the matches I have been working my entire life for. He's one of the greatest in our sport. He's the greatest who ever held a tennis racket."
Djokovic is now 11-2 against Tsitsipas, who was competing in his second Grand Slam final and is still looking for his first major title.